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for the Vancouver Games, " and I have seen that through my work on these Games." The culmination of Vancouver's strident efforts of inclusion began in October with the 45,000km Torch Relay across Canada - the longest national relay in Olympic history - which will ultimately pass through more than 1,000 communities and points of interest and feature 12,000 torchbearers. In accordance with tradition, the monumental journey actually started in Olympia, Greece, site of the ancient Olympic Games, where the sacred Olympic Flame was lit on 22 October. The torch then was passed to a Canadian representative on 29 October in Athens and flown to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, arriving on 30 October. From there, the relay followed a circuitous route - by land, sea and air - spanning the width of North America, all the way to Cape Spear National Historic Site in Newfoundland, Canada's easternmost point, before winding its way back to Vancouver in time for the Opening Ceremony on 12 February. According to VANOC, over 90 percent of Canadians were within an hour's drive of the relay, which Fasel noted, " has a way of bringing people together and promoting a message of peace and harmony." Near the completion of the Opening Ceremony - a Canadian- flavoured spectacle of dazzling music, dance and cultural pageantry, highlighted by the joyous parade of Olympic athletes - the flaming torch will finally be relayed to the last torchbearer, whose identity is only then revealed. He or she will use it to ignite the Olympic Cauldron and the Vancouver Games will officially commence. Over the next 16 days, fans will be able F rom the moment the city was awarded the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Vancouver has remained committed to enlisting all of Canada to join in the honoured role of host. " We've branded ourselves as Canada's Games," says John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organising Committee ( VANOC), which was established shortly after this vibrant, western Canadian metropolis of 2.2 million people celebrated its bid victory in July 2003. " We have developed relationships with every province and territory, every community and village, to get Canadians everywhere to feel like they have in some way breathed life into these Games." Canada has twice before hosted the Olympic Games - the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Games in C algary - and the organisers are determined that the whole nation make this third time the most charming yet. That special sense of national pride and participation is evident across the various facets that comprise the organisation of this grandest of international athletic showcases: the venues, the Olympic Torch Relay, the Cultural Olympiad and, no doubt, the sporting events themselves. " One of the great things about the Olympic Games is that no matter our background, if we work together, we can make great things happen," says René Fasel, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee ( IOC) Coordination Commission to not only witness the exploits of the world's top winter Olympians but also the amazing venues that further illustrate VANOC's commitment to its sustainability goals. Furlong and his team, in initially planning to build new facilities and renovate existing ones and to upgrade the region's infrastructure and transportation routes, had pledged these Games would be the most environmentally friendly and sustainable ever. " I am confident that the targets we set have been met," Furlong states. " Many of the venues, if not all of them, have achieved international recognition for how green they are." In fact, most of them were built to either gold or silver LEED ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Every construction and improvement project was completed well in advance of the Games, numerous successful sports events were held and strategies for public use of facilities after the Olympics are firmly in place. Besides the renovated, 55,000- seat BC Place Stadium in downtown Vancouver, site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, several other competition venues are located in the metropolitan region. Indoor events including figure skating, ice hockey, speed skating and curling will take place at facilities in and around the city, including Canada Hockey Place ( home of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks), Pacific Coliseum, UBC Thunderbird Arena and Vancouver Olympic Centre. The throng of nearly 10,000 members of international media outlets - television, print and digital - will be based out of the Main Media Centre, split between the Canada Place Complex and the Vancouver Convention Centre on the city's downtown waterfront. " The venue that will really grab people's attention," Fasel contends, " is the Richmond Olympic Oval," which will host speed skating events. Situated on the banks of the Fraser River, 14km south of downtown, this beautiful, futuristic new facility is a model of green architecture and construction. For example, it's outfitted with an innovative system that collects and recycles rainwater for irrigation and restrooms, and trees cleared from the land were salvaged for re- use in wall panelling and flooring. Spectators will be enthralled not only by the fast- and-furious skating action down on the oval, but also the handsomely designed wooden roof above the ice. All the wood comes from British Columbia forests, including some culled from trees damaged by the region's devastating pine beetle infestation. Cypress Mountain, a popular skiing area 30km west of Vancouver, has been retrofitted for the Games' " extreme" snowboarding and freestyle skiing events. A 120km drive north of the city, along the upgraded Sea- to- Sky Highway, leads to magnificent Whistler, a world- renowned ski resort famous for its challenging slopes, epic snowfalls and lively après- ski attractions. While Whistler Creekside's steep, upper glades will 26OLYMPIC REVIEW VANCOUVER 2010 AboveOne of the torch bearers holds their snowshoes with the distinctive red mittens

OLYMPIC REVIEW27 VANCOUVER 2010 feature alpine ski events, the nearby Whistler Olympic Park has been stunningly laid out for cross- country, biathlon, ski jumping and nordic combined competitions. " The backdrop of the mountains and snow just takes your breath away," Furlong claims. Fasel seconds that emotion, stating, " Mother Nature will be Vancouver 2010' s greatest attraction." Adjacent to Whistler Creekside is Blackcomb Mountain, where the Whistler Sliding Centre, a 1,450- metre serpentine ice track for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events, has been neatly carved into the landscape. World- record times are apt to be posted there, as athletes competing in pre- Games contests have rated the track the fastest in the world. Athletes, coaches, officials and other sports personnel will be housed in a pair of newly erected Olympic and Paralympic Villages in both Whistler and Vancouver. The eco- conscious Whistler complex, built on land formerly used as a town dump, will be heated by methane gas trapped underneath. The Vancouver village, a 17- acre, 1,100- unit development located alongside the city's False Creek waterfront, will be converted after the Games into a sustainable community featuring apartments, retail shops, restaurants and public parks. As diligent as VANOC and the IOC have been in guaranteeing a long- lasting legacy for the Vancouver Games, they have tapped into Canada's rich origins, as well, by prominently including the nation's aboriginal groups in ? LeftMascot Quatchi poses with some volunteers Above The Torch travels on a traditional canoe