Saturday, February 6, 2010

2010 Winter Olympics: Torch Relay Fires Up Whistler

Tyler Allison 17, a young Olympic hopeful athlete exchanges the torch from former crazy Canuck Steve Podborski on the final leg of torch in Whistler Village on Feb. 5, 2010.

The 2010 Winter games officially begin in Vancouver on February 12th but for Whistler, they opened last night with the arrival of the Olympic Torch. The streets were packed, guests lined balconies surrounding the Skiers Plaza and the town was alive with music and flag waving fans.

After a three month trek across Canada the torch arrived at Whistlers Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center where it was greeted by First Nation’s leaders and a festive crowd. Then, after passing the Blackcomb base, it entered the main village near the Brewhouse and medal plaza before turning up the narrow lanes of the new village. After several torch bearer exchanges it wound over the bridge to the “old” village amid a growing throng and past crowds lining both sides of the route.

Music and lights were ready at the stage in the Town Square, outside the village market. A giant TV screen displayed events at the Skiers Plaza stage. Passing toward the gondola base the torch carrier was met by a snowmobile that carried it to the top of a new 100 foot high snow mound beside the gondola base and overlooking the Skiers Plaza and main stage (in front of the Longhorn Saloon and Grill.)

The Skiers Plaza was a solid mass of humanity but no one seemed to mind the crowd. Kids on shoulders heard their parents say things like, “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity” and “you will remember this the rest of your lives.” The parents were probably correct.

Finally, after a few speeches from the stage, the final carrier skied down the small slope and ignited the “Whistler Flame” in a cauldron on the main stage.

The Whistler Flame will burn for the rest of the Olympics. The official torch took a rest for the night and will begin its trip on to Vancouver early Saturday morning.

It was a Whistler night to remember and a portend of things to come as the official events get rolling in one weeks time. It is going to be a festive time in Whistler.

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