Maria Sharapova leads Russian athletes in Olympic torch lighting

Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak light the Olympic cauldron.

Matt Slocum/AP

Tennis star Maria Sharapova led a group of six notable Russian athletes for the torch lighting at Friday’s Opening Ceremony.

Sharapova was joined by pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, former gymnast Alina Kabaeva (who has been linked romantically to Vladimir Putin), figure-skating legend Irina Rodnina, wrestling star Alexander Karelin and former hockey goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.

Rodnina and Tretiak were the two to physically light the torch.

Often called the greatest goaltender of all time by those who saw him play, Tretiak was the first Russian-born player to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Rodnina won three gold medals for the Soviet Union before moving to the United States in 1990 to work as a coach. She won 10 world pairs titles in a row with two different partners and has coached two Czech skaters to a world title.

The honor Thursday night capped a rollicking opening ceremony in Sochi’s Olympic Park, which opened with a welcome "to the center of the universe."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.