Torch Relay Update -- Former Russian Weightlifter Carries Flame

(ATR) Former Russian weightlifter Andrei Chemerkin carried the flame in Stavropol on Friday.

Former Russian weightlifter Andrei Chemerkin carried the Olympic flame inStavropol on Friday. He told RIA Novosti he is "more of a snowboarder now," and is looking forward to watching both snowboarding and hockey events during the Sochi Games.

Olympic handball player Igor Lavrov concluded the leg of the torch relay in Stavropol.

2008 Olympic silver medalist Maria Abakumova hails from Stavropol.

The flames makes stops in two cities on Saturday: Elista and Yshkul. Sochi 2014 says Elista is considered the "Buddhist capital of Russia."

Yshkul is home to a popular Buddhist temple.

The torch relay heads to Astrakhan on Sunday, approximately 683 miles northeast of Sochi. Renown footballer Rinat Dasaev, Olympic boxer Boris Kuznetsov, and Russian handball player Emiliya Turay were all born in Astrakhan.

With less than one month to go, the flame is making its way back into European Russia and, ultimately, Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on February 7.

The Sochi Paralympic torch relay will be held from February 26 to March 7. According to RIA Novosti, the city of Yatusk will be one of the first stops in the Paralympic torch relay. A line-up of 17 torchbearers, including Paralympic silver medalist Vladimir Balynetsm, will carry the torch inYatusk.

Written byNicole Bennett

Homepage photo from RIA Novosti

For general comments or questions,click here.

20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics, for subscribers only.