Olympic Countdown offers lots to celebrate 

Torch unveiled 8 a.m. Thursday in Village Square

click to enlarge 52 Weeks To Go Former Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden helps celebrate last year's countdown to the Olympics. This weekend marks the one-year countdown.
  • 52 Weeks To Go Former Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden helps celebrate last year's countdown to the Olympics. This weekend marks the one-year countdown.

Organizers will unveil the Olympic torch design and the outfits torchbearers will wear on Thursday in Whistler as part of the one-year countdown to the 2010 Games.

The Olympic Torch is designed and manufactured by Canadian business leader Bombardier, while the torchbearer uniform is designed by Hudson's Bay Company. Both will be revealed for the first time in Village Square at 8 a.m. Feb. 12 at a public celebration with Olympic and other dignitaries. The list of VIPs includes IOC president Dr. Jacques Rogge, Gary Lunn, the federal Minister of State for Sport, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, and Whistler Mayor, Ken Melamed.

The Torch Relay, presented by Coca-Cola and RBC and supported by the Government of Canada, will connect Canadians in every province and territory in a 45,000-kilometre journey over approximately 100 days and involving 12,000 torchbearers. It starts Oct. 30 and will stop in Whistler Feb. 5.

For Whistler's mayor the countdown marks a time for final preparation and for the excitement of hosting the world's biggest sporting event to become real.

"This is an exciting time," he said Monday while rushing between interviews with media from all over the world.

"It means we are finally a year away. In some ways the wait has been interminable... but now it is all about the final countdown to the realization of these Games."

For the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC) the countdown is a time to tell Canada to get involved.

"Get on board, celebrate, be part of this," said Maureen Douglas, VANOC's director of community relations.

"We are one year away from one of the most remarkable experiences a country can share in and we want you to be part of it."

Cities, regions and towns locally and across Canada have organized events and VANOC is encouraging everyone at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 to make some noise by honking horns, ringing bells, cheering, and singing out loud.

On Thursday the 2010 Mascots, Sumi, Quatchi and Miga, will also be in Whistler to celebrate. And, of course, there will be cake.

The one-year countdown celebration period officially kicked off with the first sports event on Jan. 16 and ends on March 21 - the one year mark to the last day of the Paralympic Games.

Whistler is celebrating the countdown with several days of activities including fireworks and fire spinners as Whistler Blackcomb turns up the heat with the top free-riding athletes from the Ski and Snowboard School jumping through the "Ring of Fire". The event will take place Thursday from 5:40 p.m. to 6:10 pm in Skier's Plaza.

There will be a series of free concerts in Village Square in celebration of the energy, diversity and distinctive flavours of Canada. They are presented by Whistler Arts Council and the 2009 Cultural Olympiad. The concerts are just one aspect of the Cultural Olympiad that includes films, theatrical performances and other artistic mediums (go to www.whistlerartscouncil.com. for more information)

The concert schedule:

· Thursday. Feb. 12

4:40 p.m.-5:40 p.m.: Wil
5:40 p.m.-6:10 p.m.; 1-year Countdown Celebration
6:10 p.m.-7:10 p.m.: the Paperboys

· Friday, Feb. 13

4:40 p.m.-5:40 p.m.: Joel Plaskett
5:40 p.m.-6:10 p.m.: DJ Dakota
6:10 p.m.-7:10 p.m.: Wide Mouth Mason

· Saturday, Feb. 14

4:40 p.m.-5:40 p.m.: Grand Analog
5:40 p.m.-6:10 p.m.: DJ Dakota
6:10 p.m.-7:10 p.m.: Buck 65

· Sunday, Feb 15

3:40 p.m.-4:40 p.m.: Bitterly Divine
4:40 p.m.-5:10 p.m.: DJ Dakota
5:10 p.m.-6:10 p.m.: George Leach

On Wednesday dignitaries and Olympic officials unveiled Whistler's own Omega countdown clock, which is located at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Blackcomb Mountain.

Also on Wednesday in Village Square, there was a special performance by Canada's Jully Black and visits from Canadian athletes, including last weekend's skier-cross silver medalist, Whistler's own Ashleigh McIvor.

Also, don't forget to look up if you are passing through Mountain Square next week as artists practice aerial entertainment.



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