Flame coming back to Whistler for Games 

Torch relay celebration draws thousands to Skiers Plaza


Whistler will be recapturing the magic of the flame when it comes back to the resort this weekend.

On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Olympic flame will light up the big white cauldron at Whistler Medals Plaza, where it will burn brightly for the duration of the Games.

This will be the second time the community will have the chance to experience the powerful, emotional pull of the Olympic flame after a massive community gathering at the Feb. 5 torch relay.

"How could it get any better?" asked Mayor Ken Melamed of the event, which culminated in a community celebration at Skiers Plaza and the lighting of the relay's traveling ceremonial cauldron.

The thing is, the mayor believes it is going to get better as the Games officially begin tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 12 and Whistler hosts the world.

The elation of Friday's torch relay was still palpable the day after at the library open house - the first of a handful of public events at Whistler Canada Olympic House.

Several torchbearers were on hand, posing for pictures, talking to community members about their once-in-a-lifetime experience and showing off their soot-stained torches.

"I think Whistler did ourselves proud and did the country proud," said torchbearer Jim Godfrey, who has been planning the Games for Whistler as executive director of the 2010 Games Office the past seven years.

Estimates have put the crowd at Skier's Plaza at around 15,000 to 20,000 people, the chance to see the flame like a magnet drawing people to the bottom of Whistler Mountain.

"It's like the Olympic switch was flicked on," said proud mom Stephanie Sloan who was in the heart of the plaza watching her daughter, 2010 ski cross athlete Julia Murray, handing off the flame to former Olympian Steve Podborski.

Podborski then lit the torch of final torchbearer Tyler Allison, a Grade 12 high school student and competitive mountain biker.

It was a meaningful handover - a current Olympian to a past Olympian to a future Olympian.

"What an indication of the connection this community has to sport and the Olympics," said the mayor.

Whistler's flame, along with Vancouver's flame, will be extinguished at the end of the Games. The Whistler cauldron, different from the cauldron lit at the torch relay, will be a permanent fixture at medals plaza.

Saturday's celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. This will be the first medals presentation of the Games.

Tickets are required to get into the plaza where there is a capacity of just over 5,000. There will be daily releases of tickets for the Whistler Medals Plaza but the details of the times of those releases have not been confirmed. The details of the lighting will be revealed at the event.



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