For me today was very special. It was the first time that I got to see the Olympic torch up close and personal. As we were driving out from Edmonton to Lloydminster to bring you this coverage, it was like I was heading to a concert that I have been awaiting for a long while.
It was 14 years ago, while living in Vancouver, that I got a look at what was to be the country’s collective future. At the time, a group that included Arthur Griffiths, one-time owner of the Vancouver Canucks, was working to secure for Canada and British Columbia the world’s largest winter sporting event. I was working for the Greater Vancouver Open, a PGA stop and this Olympic bid office shared with ours. Everyday I’d pop my head in there to investigate thinking all along how incredible it would be to welcome the world.
After years of effort, that dream came true and now the Olympic Torch is making its way across the country, and along the way, igniting the hearts and minds of millions. The numbers of this three and a half month tour are staggering. The relay touches 1,038 communities in 106 days including 187 community celebrations with 12,000 torch bearers covering over 45,000 kilometers.
When the torch was here in Alberta at the end of November, it made its way by plane but this is certainly not the only mode of transport now. The torch will be conveyed by horse drawn carriages, sled dogs and even Alberta’s own Charlie Locke, owner of Lake Louise, is offering up a unique mode of transport – snowmobile on Jan. 21.
Here in Alberta, the torch will be carried by 1,000 torch bearers and will cover over 3,400 kms throughout the province before it is handed off to the British Columbia residents for the final push to Whistler.
Over the next 10 days, the torch will stop in dozens of communities throughout the province, including our capital city, Edmonton. It will head down to Drumheller to hang with the dinosaurs, into the UNESCO World Heritage site of Head-Smashed in Buffalo Jump and back to Alberta’s Olympic roots at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. Smaller centres such as Airdrie, Vegreville and High River will also see the flame carried through the hometown streets, and of course, it will head into the Canadian Rockies of Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise.
Watch for more updates as we bring them to you daily from the road.
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