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VANOC unveils the 2010 Torch (a.k.a B.C.’s giant joint)

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Caleb Taylor, a volunteer hockey coach from Regina chosen as the first torchbearer for the 2010 Olympic torch relay

On Feb. 12, the new 2010 torch and torchbearer uniforms were unveiled in Whistler to commemorate the one-year countdown to the 2010 Games.

You could tell that VANOC put a great deal of time and strategy into planning the event. No public events were held in Vancouver, even though the bulk of the events will be held there. Were organizers were afraid of anti-Olympic protestors spoiling their million-dollar photo opps?

Whistler was a much better choice since its plazas and squares can be easily secured for an international event. By all accounts, there were more media and security than spectators at the event. You would never know if you were watching the live telecast on CTV or Global TV.

The "Who's Who" of sports corporatization and the Olympics were in attendance including Bombardier CEO, Pierre Beaudoin; HBC CEO, Jeffrey Sherman; Minister of State (Sport), Gary Lunn; B.C. Premier, Gordon Campbell; VANOC CEO, John Furlong; IOC President, Dr. Jacques Rogge and Whistler Mayor, Ken Melamed.

Bombardier Aeropsace's design team spent more than 24 months designing the torches and cauldrons for 2010. Bombardier 's CEO told the crowd how the torch design was inspired by "blades on ice."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Dr. Jacques Rogge told the crowd in Whistler that, "The Vancouver 2010 torch design is like Canada - young, exciting, innovative and welcoming to everyone who sees and holds it."

When the torch was finally unveiled, I was struck by how the long, white torch looked like a giant joint, especially when lit. How appropriate for the host province, known all over the world for its potent B.C. bud.

The nearly one-metre-tall white torch will be able to function in all of Canada's climate zones, operating in temperatures from -50 C to 40 C. Twelve-thousand torches will be manufactured for each of the torchbearers in the 45,000-kilometre relay.

I was unimpressed by the pure white torchbearer uniforms created by fashion designers Vivienne Lu and Tu Ly for the Hudson's Bay Company. Blink and you'd miss the blue and green stripes on the left sleeve.

The uniforms were inspired by Canada's natural beauty. In the animal world, the only reason that animals like ptarmigans and polar bears are white is for camouflage and protection. Are the white uniforms supposed to protect the torchbearers from opponents of the Games as they run through 12,000 Canadian communities?

 Chances are the uniforms are made in China just like the other 2010 merchandise. Interestingly enough, the Australian Paralympic Team chose to have their uniforms made by Quebec-based, Apogee.

The best part of the morning was the Whistler Children's Chorus singing as snowflakes fell to the ground. Not sure why all the kids were wearing orange garbage bags, when it wasn't even raining.

As the kids stepped off the stage, VANOC staff asked all the kids to return the red, gnome-like Olympic toques they'd been wearing on stage. Need I say more?

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