25 Olympic Torch Relay Photos That Prove Russians Are Total Badasses

ByGabriel Grand

If there are two things all Russians are good at, it's drinking vodka and being badass. From shooting tigers with tranquilizer guns to riding horses with no shirt on, President Vladamir Putin has time and again proved that Russia is hands-down more hardcore than any other country.

Now, Russia is at it again, this time using the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic torch relay as a chance to flex its muscles. More than 14,000 people will serve as torch-bearers along the unprecedented 56,000 kilometer route, which winds through the North Pole, underwater in Lake Baikal, and into outer space. Yeah, that's right: freaking space.

So far, they've covered half the total distance, using the most Russian means of transportation available: dog sleds, snowmobiles, skis, zip lines, space shuttles, nuclear-powered icebreakers — oh yeah, and they carried the torch by foot, too. 

The torch-bearers have braved the freezing-ass Russian winter with only a handful of incidents. And when the torch's flame happened to extinguish, one guy did what any sensible Russian would do: he whipped out a cigarette lighter from his pocket. Classic.

Here are 25 photos of the most badass moments from the 2014 Olympic torch relay. Make no mistake, these things would happen only in Russia.


This dude snowboarded his way down a mountain — torch in hand — at Sheregesh winter sports resort in Siberia.


These divers, sporting wetsuits and scuba gear, held their Olympic torches underwater in Baikal, Russia's largest lake. Yep, that's right: they brought the Olympic flame underwater.


Meanwhile, this daredevil, otherwise known as Mikhail Chuyev, delivered the torch from a boat to shore using a jet pack. No, I didn't know jet packs really existed, either.


These guys sprinted in foot-deep snow to carry the torch to the icebreaker you see in the background. Oh, and did I mention that the ship, 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of the Victory), is powered by nuclear energy? Because the 2014 Olympics wouldn't be Russian if they didn't involve the word "nuclear".


Good old 50 Let smashed through some ice to ferry the torch to... the North Pole. It was the first time in Olympic history that this ancient Greek tradition made it up to Santa territory.


Speaking of Santa, Dasher and Prancer here pulled a sleigh near the Siberian city of Yakutsk, about 4,830 kilometers (3,000 miles) east of Moscow, Russia. Unlike St. Nick's reindeer, though, they didn't fly.


Now, you're probably thinking, "Hey Russia, how can you top the North Pole?" Well here's your answer, in the form of the Russian Soyuz-FG booster rocket and TMA-11M space capsule. Here, they're en route to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and set to transport the torch to the International Space Station (ISS).


Kazakhstan, we have liftoff.


Two Russian cosmonauts, Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, taking the unlit torch for the Sochi Winter Olympics on its first historic space walk. Unfortunately, space has no air to fuel flames — even if you're Russian.



Back on planet earth, these ice-swimmers took a quick dip in the Amur River in Blagoveshchensk, Russia's Far East. Somehow, despite being submerged practically naked in freezing-cold water, this guy managed to keep the flame dry at all times.


In case you doubted how cold that water was, these swimmers wanted you to know that the white stuff in the foreground is ice. Solid ice.


It's not just the men in Russia who seem to have incredibly good circulation and thick, heat-insulating skin. Here's torch-bearer Natalia Usacheva exiting the Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.


Just one more crazy mode of transportation to add to the list: zipline.


Russian badassery doesn't fade with age; 101-year-old Alexander Kaptarenko became the oldest torch-bearer in Olympic history this month. What's more, he's a pro ping-pong player who says he plans to compete in the European table tennis veterans championships.


There's no stopping Elena Saprygina, either, who carried the Olympic flame on her wheelchair in a sport center in the Siberian city of Tomsk, Russia.


The Kremlin rarely passes up a chance to show off Russia's military might, which is why the Olympic torch found its way to a photo-op in front of a fighter jet.


Most people associate camels with the desert, but they've got their own special (and pretty badass) place in Russian history, too. During World War II, many military units of the Soviet Red Army took to using camels, which they called "Kuznechik," to transport ammunition, fuel for tanks and aircraft, food, water for kitchens, fuel, and even wounded Red Army soldiers.


Except for the cars in the background, this scene could have been lifted straight from the Bolshevik Revolution — just look at the guy on the left's furry hat. Victory, comrades.


The torch was carried by foot to the top of the mountain so that this guy could spot his house. Fear of heights? Nonsense.


Meanwhile, check out this massive invasion of rowboats on the Volga River in Tver. The torch is with the dragon boat (yep, the boat is painted to look like a dragon) leading the pack.


One more reason why Russians are so badass: Many of them are descendants of the Vikings. Huzzah!


This torch-bearer climbed up a bridge to symbolize... absolutely nothing. She just did it for the hell of it.


These guys went for a quick raft trip with the Olympic torch in Gorno-Altaysk because, well, why not?


Torch-bearer Evgeny Scherbinin in Russia's Sverdlovsk region, riding in his badass motorcycle side-car. (Yes, side-cars are badass. Have you ever seen Wallace and Gromit?)


Last, but not least, President Badass himself, posing with the Olympic torch and a smug grin that says, "See you at the Olympics."

All images in this article are credited to the Associated Press unless otherwise noted.