Yesterday was an extremely busy day even although I had a day off from my Olympic duties. The organisers of the Torch Relay were looking for volunteers to help when the Torch came to Whistler so I applied and was accepted. As I am living in Creekside I had to get the bus to Whistler Village and meet the others in the Westin Hotel before going over to Skier’s Plaza where there were a few large trucks unloading equipment. My first duty was to help assemble the main stage, which was not a light or clean job! The crew responsible for the Torch Relay have now set up and taken down the stage 99 times and still have more to do as the Torch heads for Vancouver…well done lads!
My next task after lunch was to help distribute Canada flags and pins to crowds arriving to see the celebrations. It was a lot of fun mingling with the people, seeing how excited they were getting, how patriotic they were with their painted faces, banners, scarves, gloves and hats…there was red everywhere. The atmosphere was building and it was great to be in the middle of it all.
As darkness began to fall you could feel the excitement building and the crowds were getting bigger and bigger. Some people would say “I am not Canadian but can I have a flag”, I would reply “I am not a Canadian either, don’t worry about it, have a flag”. I was still handing out flags and I think by the end of the night I had handed out over 750.
By about 6:30 the Torch was in the Whistler Village and the crowd in the Skiers Plaza was so tight I gave up trying to get through to give out flags. I decided it was time to find my spot to watch the Torch. As I was a Torch volunteer I was fortunate to be able to get inside the front fence at the stage, it was fantastic to be so close to the action.
The Torch appeared in the dark on the mountain and was first carried by Canadian freestyle skier Julia Murray, she then handed the flame over to one of the Crazy Canucks, Steve Podborski, who won bronze at the 1980 Olympics, and he skied down the hill with Torch held high. It was amazing to see the Torch glow against the back drop of the snow covered mountain. I have video of this and when I get it uploaded I will post the link.
When the Torch came into the stage area I was within a metre from it and when the cauldron was lit I was so close I could almost feel the heat. I have followed the Torch Relay on the web from the start, looking at photos and videos but to be right there, taking my own photos and video took the experience to a whole new level, it is beyond words. You can read more here.
After the celebrations were over I went up the mountain in the gondola and watched the fireworks. When I came down I wandered round the village, got given some Coca Cola in special Olympic bottles, traded a few pins and generally enjoyed the nice crisp evening in Whistler. It was a fantastic day and I was so pleased to be a part of it. Now when do these Games start?
More photos from last night cane be found here.