London’s Opening Ceremonies kicks off in less than two weeks and the Olympic Torch Relay is on its last leg leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. With the World’s biggest event coming soon, it is hard not to think back to the lead up for Vancouver’s big moment in 2010. It was a defining moment for Canadian sports, patriotism and Olympic history.
The majority of Canadians could tell you exactly where they were when they witnessed Canada take Gold in Men’s Hockey on the last day of the 2010 Games. Many could do the same with the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. Witnessed by over 14 million Canadians, with 12,000 carrying the flame across the 45,000 km route throughout 106 intense days it was, and will be, the largest domestic relay in history. Following the completion, the Olympic Committee put a cap on the length and number of days for subsequent relays – London’s Relay is only 70 days long with a fraction of the number of torchbearers, (festival size) daily celebrations and total distance to be traveled.
So what kind of undertaking was it to be apart of the 300+ person family that created and carried the World’s largest relay and made Canada cheer (and protest) from coast to coast to coast?
Here are some of my photos and stories during my four months working for VANOC and Coca Cola experiencing Canada in front of the Olympic Flame at seven km/h.
40,000 KM, 12,000 Torchbearers over 106 days... a cap is now in place to prevent another Olympic Relay from being as extensive.
It took 3 years of planning and a team even drove the route twice through in advance to make sure everything was set down to the exact minute and second.
Massive crowds gather to see Sidney Crosby carry the Flame in Halifax
DAY 14 / St John's, NFLD: 106 days on the back of the convoy that blazed the trail for the Olympic Torchbearers
A local Newfoundlander selling his goods off the highway. Only $10 a pair, or was it a hare? No one could really understand his thick Newfie accent.
There always needed to be at least half a dozen different 'Official Olympic Flames' lit, (originally lit in Greece) to make sure if it ever went out we had official backup. The Flame is always fueled by butane to give it that official olympic glow.
DAY 36 Quebec: Driving a Zamboni down Quebec City's cobblestone streets was like crossing off some random Life's to Do List.
Note: In Canada they are supposed to be called Olympia's (the American brand is called Zamboni, good luck marketing department), since Olympia was one of the sponsors for the Olympics, the 'Z' word was wiped from our vocabulary.
When you wake up and go to sleep in a new city every day while working 14 + hour days, the RON board was a saviour to finding out where you exactly are and more importatly when and where you could pick up your laundry.
DAY 45 Ottawa: Our whole crew was invited to a martini party at Parliament...there is something strangely patriotic about passing out in the House of Commons...
DAY 63: Sault Ste Marie, ONT: Our smaller advance team gets a day off and we pull off the Best Wedding Crash in Olympic history as we take over this New Year's Eve bash. Within a minute of us crashing through the doors the newly weds were holding up the Torch and the entire crowd spontaneously started singing O Canada. Absolutely priceless.
DAY 85 Cranbrook, BC: Getting called in at 5am to be told a spot needed to be filled and you get to run with the flame is a pretty special feeling. Later in the day I got to meet this gentleman who was wearing his Dad's Olympic sweater and medal from when they won the 1932 Hockey Gold at Lake Placid.
Bottom left: The 1932 Lake Placid, NY Games Gold medal in Hockey
DAY 95: A 20 hour ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. If you get any chance to sleep on the relay, you take it.
* I woke up on the ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia with my whole team and relay gone...I ended up hitching a ride to join the celebrations team
DAY 102 / Abbotsford BC: Setting up for the Night Celebration after finishing with the Day Celebraton in Hope a few hours earlier.
This is the BEFORE...
20,000 people at Abbotsford, BC. Only days left until the Olympic Cauldron is lit in Vancouver.
DAY 106 / Vancouver: Our team walks the flame up to BC Place and celebrates as we finish our once in a lifetime trip across our beautiful country.
I miss you guys!
Canada wins Hockey Gold! Party on Granville!
The only thing that could cap off traveling almost 4 months across the country with an amazing team guiding the Olympic Flame was landing in the middle of the craziness that took over Vancouver during the 2 weeks of the Olympics.
Good luck to all Canadian athletes heading down to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games!