Canada wins hockey gold; Olympic flame snuffed

Wow, what a finish.

It’s official, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games have come and gone. 17 days of intense competition and partying are sadly over.

As the final cheers rang out throughout the SeaBus terminal corridors in North Vancouver, a sudden sense of satisfaction rolled over me; the Games’ coverage was great.

Black Press had two of its finest reporters, Abby News’ own Grant Granger and Vernon’s brightest star Kevin Mitchell, controlling the Olympic vernacular for the entire run. The two filled the pages of almost 70 papers thoughout British Columbia, Alberta and Washington State, and kept the web looking fresh.

Backing up the copy consortium with the visuals were The Progress’ Jenna Hauck and Victoria News’ Don Denton. Both of these photo-phenoms filed images for all 17 days of events, while collecting some serious mileage going back and forth between Vancouver and Whistler. Whether it was at the Sliding Centre in Whistler or at Canada Hockey Place in downtown Vancouver, the colour these two brought to our eyes was spectacular.

Tom Fletcher, Jeff Nagel and myself collared up the on-the-street action throughout as well. Between covering protests, numerous wine tastings (I don’t think ever made it to print) and the nightlife, we were all kept extremely busy shooting video, chasing athletes and riding transit.

What usually gets overlooked in any newsroom or production house is the grand organizer; the overall head of headquarters; the assignment editor. The North Shore Outlook’s Justin Beddall made quick schedule changes, made sure none of us were sleeping on the job and threw together the online and print packages. He pulled together a flawless performance conducting a small team to huge heights.

The team was great; the games were great; the travel was tough, but the memories will last forever.

Great work guys. We deserve a serious pat on the back.

Sleep now!

Oh, Mr. Kesler.

As I write this, the fourth quarterfinal match of the day for men’s hockey is playing on my TV. Sweden is battling hard against Slovakia and with only give minutes left in the first period, the score is still an even zero.

It’s been over a week since I last posted — a week where my mantra has become, “You can always eat and sleep later after the Olympics are done.” I’ve had a few early mornings and a few late nights but between all of those, I’ve had a lot of fun.

My week started off with a full day of team practices and press conferences on Monday the 15. As teams finally got a chance to dock some practice times, it was also one of the first times that the entire team would be available for team photos.

Along with another workforce member, I precariously edged my way onto the ice — now slippery and dangerous after having been cleaned and worked on over the weekend. Wearing a rubber grip on one foot, my co-worker and I slowly hauled a wooden bench onto the ice that would be set up for the team photo. As we stepped along the edge of the rink, Team USA began to file out of the changing rooms, ready and geared up for practice.

As many people know, Ryan Kesler, a foward for the Vancouver Canucks, is playing for Team USA. As many of my own friends know, Ryan Kesler also happens to be my favourite hockey player — both for reasons relating to hockey and otherwise. So of course, as I was balancing this wooden bench and inching my way across the ice, attempting to avoid a disastrous slip, extra pressure was added as my favourite hockey player skated out and glided across the ice.

Of course, celebrities and sports stars meet so many people in their day-to-day lives, that it’d be impossible for them to remember someone like me –  an Olympic volunteer who simply has a silly school-girl admiration for Ryan Kesler. The difference is that an hour before, I’d directed him to his chair and he had nodded and smiled.

“Mr. Kesler, gentleman. If we could just keep this doorway clear and Mr. Kesler can take a seat?”

I know it sounds silly. But I was convinced that he would remember me. Not for graceful reasons, of course. He’d remember me because I was a red-faced, blue-oufitted girl who had so gingerly touched his elbow and motioned awkwardly toward an empty chair. And because I was convinced that was how I had been imprinted into his memory, I really did not want to add to that memory by slipping in the middle of the ice rink, dropping a wooden bench, and injuring myself accidentally.

My co-worker hissed at me.

“Stop going so fast!”

I breathed and realized I had been walking much faster than necessary. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be so slow that the team would become annoyed. Either way, there was no good solution to making  a good first impression on Team USA. All I could do was walk and hope I didn’t slip or drop the bench.

Sure enough, we made it to the middle of the rink without slipping and gently set the bench down. As the players began to take their seats in order, my co-worker and I lingered at the boards and watched the photographer work.

Were we silly? Yes. Were we whispering about the hockey players? Of course. It was Ryan Kesler, after all. My favourite hockey player — but at the moment, I can’t wait until he is a Canuck again and I can stop disliking him for his empty-net goal against Canada. Sigh.

olympic inukshuks

Children try building Inukshuk's at the Northern House at West Hastings and Seymour Street.

Jessica Murdy
for BCLocalNews.com

I’m halfway through the Olympics today, and I’m already nursing a Winter Games hangover.
Mind you, I haven’t been to a ticketed event, and I won’t be. But I’ve seen and heard more than I ever have in the city, mostly for free. Even with a pounding head this Monday morning – even typing hurts, to tell the truth – I’m craving more.
I’ve been into the city twice; once the day before the Olympics opening ceremony with my three sons, and again Sunday, with my sweetheart.
Both were all-day excursions. Both were an experience to remember. But it’s been a learn-as-you-go process. And what I’ve learned, I will share.
I initially wanted to write this after the first visit. But torrential rain, a lack of open venues, and a self-inflicted transportation SNAFU put a damper on that.
But today? I’ve seen the light. That glorious February sun was mostly just peeping out between the high rises on Hamilton Street, but I’ve seen it.
I’ve seen the cauldron, too. But I’ll get there in a few minutes.
My Olympic story begins two weeks ago, when the torch came through our town of Agassiz, B.C.
I was ignited. I knew I would be, as I’ve seen the torch before. But it really got to me. In that weepy, patriotic way I’m sure millions of Canadians felt the past few months.
Then a colleague, Jeff Nagel, wrote about free things to see and do during the Olympics. My 10-year-old son said it was impossible: too expensive, he chirped from the back of the car one day.
Taking the challenge, I set into motion. I planned to take the kids out of school, drive in, see a few sights, and head home. I gave myself a budget of $100, for transportation, food and incidentals. We gathered information from websites, friends, maps and stories from fellow Black Press reporters.
I learned a lot on that trip. And with the final days of the Olympic Games upon us, there’s precious time left, and no time to waste learning my mistakes. Here’s my top ten bits of advice. Thank me later.
1) Coming from the Fraser Valley, don’t take SkyTrain from anywhere except Scott Road Station in Surrey. On the first visit we ended up driving up and down the highway, crossing the Port Mann and turning back, in search of a parking lot anywhere near a SkyTrain station. (On sharing this frustration with a better-traveled Black Press writer, she replied “ha!” She tells me, the point is to take public transit right from home – which may make a trainload of sense from Surrey or Richmond, but loses steam when you live in Chilliwack.
On the second trip, I sat in the passenger seat while my companion drove straight into the city and cruised into the CBC parking lot. We paid $20 to park until midnight. SkyTrain passes would have cost us $18. You do the math. The car also came in handy at the end of the night. But, again, more on that in a minute.
2) Stay away from The Bay. Sorry, but a three hour line up to shop for what I could buy at my local grocer or Zellers over the past two years? No. Does Quatchi look any more intriguing today than he did last spring? I thought not. My advice? Stick to the street vendors and smaller stores that carry swag. We skipped souvenirs on the first visit, with a promise I would go in the following weekend and spoil them. For $60, a little creativity, and the help of smaller stores, I found a car pillow, a stuffed animal and pure Canadian maple syrup — all bearing the resemblance of Quatchi. (Okay, I admit he is kinda cute.) The syrup is at Urban Fare, and the others were bought at a touristy-shop in Granville Island.
3) Visit Granville Island. This is my favourite Vancouver nook, and always will be. But it was alive Sunday night. We watched most of the US/Canada hockey game that night, hopping from bar windows to outdoor televisions to more bar windows.
But we settled at the Afghan Horseman on Anderson to watch the final, disappointing period. No crowds. Big tv. Big drinks. Enough said.
4) Did I mention Granville Island? Here’s what we were treated to. A stunning performance by Circus West, the smell of food emanating from the francophone pavilion, and a rocking performance on a massive scale by the absolutely fantastic Les Cowboys Frigants.
And it was all entrée gratuite.
Best line of the night? Karl Tremblay, speaking English briefly after the show: “Vancouver, that was a French kiss!”
5) Find a way to enjoy the Olympics in a way you enjoy. Sunday, we took up two seats at the CBC studio, to take part in a taping of Rex Murphy’s Cross Canada Checkup. On the show was Steve Armitage, Olympic gold-medal wrestler Daniel Igali, and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, the 18-year-old Quebecois downhill ski phenom. It nourished my brain while entertaining, and an accidental peek into Murphy’s dressing room (he was rehearsing his intro) gave me a sneaky glimpse into the inner workings of the CBC. Kinda cool for a young journalist. The lesson? Find your groove, mix it with the Olympics, and you could strike gold, too.
6) Double check information. Ask anyone who works for transit, including the Aquabus drivers. Ask any one of the police officers navigating the crosswalks throughout the city grid. (Side note: Heed their whistles. I failed to once, and even though looks don’t kill, a high-pitched whistle in your face isn’t too fun either.) We ended up in the wrong area for the fireworks. You want to be in plain view of David Lam Park for best viewing, about 10:45 p.m. each day of the Games. If you’re in the Live City Yaletown site, you’re good. Anywhere else, you’re missing out.
6) See the cauldron. We just about forgot, heading home after the fireworks. Tired and aching from too much food and plenty of walking, we only stayed for a minute. But it’s beautiful, and worth the drive into the city alone.
7) There are ways to avoid the ‘circus’ of the city, and there are ways to dive right in.
While the newscasters focus on the hustle and bustle, often one block up or down or left or right in any direction is practically empty. All the streets aren’t jam-packed with a party. Just many of them.
8) Roasted chestnuts? One word: Disgusting.
9) Avoid line-ups to enjoy your day. Biggest line-ups are for the zip line across Robson Square (estimated 6 hrs), Royal Canadian Mint (est. 3 hrs.) HBC (est. 3 hrs.) and any pub showing a Canadian hockey game. We chose walking and ducking into pubs here and there to plopping down in one spot. The street atmosphere, especially near Granville and in Yaletown, were just too exciting to leave behind, even in exchange for a cozy bar stool.
10) Free. Free. Free. Yes, it exists. Of course, you have to eat. Of course you’re going to be paying for gas or transit from A to B. But there is so much going on, each and everyone of us would be remiss for skipping the Olympic experience just because of crowds, cost or accessibility.
I spent $80 the first day, with three kids in tow, and for a more entertaining, adult time on Sunday, the price tag was about $200, including the souvenirs.

Free shows still to come:

Tue Feb 23 – Wintersleep – 9:30 @ Livecity Yaletown
Tue Feb 23 – Even Keel – 6:00 @ Plaza Of Nations (Edgewater)
Tue Feb 23 – Anique granger – 6:00 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Tue Feb 23 – Les 3 Accords – 7:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie

Wed Feb 24 – Aaron Tyler Grant (of the Broken Condom Babies) 9:45 @ Plaza of Nations
Wed Feb 24 – Bridges And Breakdowns – 9:00 @ Plaza Of Nations (Edgewater)
Wed Feb 24 – Andrea Lindsay – 6:00 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Wed Feb 24 – Mighty Popo – 6:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Wed Feb 24 – André-Philippe Gagnon – 7:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Wed Feb 24 – Wintersleep – 10:30 @ Atlantic Canada House *19+
Wed Feb 24 – Tambura Rasa – 6:30 @ Livecity Yaletown
Wed Feb 24 – Damian “Jr.Gong” Marley – 9:30 @ Livecity Yaletown

Thur Feb 25 – Geneviève Toupin – 6:00 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Thur Feb 25 – Daniel Roa – 6:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Thur Feb 25 – Adriane Moffat – 7:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Thur Feb 25 – Paul Filek – 5:00 @ The Cellar *19+
Thur Feb 25 – Illscarlett – 6:30 @ Livecity Yaletown
Thur Feb 25 – Head Pins – 7:30 @ Holland Park
Thur Feb 25 – Street Heart – 9:00 @ Holland Park
Thur Feb 25 – Wintersleep – 9:30 @ Ozone
Thur Feb 25 – Inward Eye – 11:30 @ Livecity Downtown

Fri Feb 26 – Dr Strangelove – 3:30 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – Robert Charlebois – 7:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Fri Feb 26 – Paul Filek – 5:00 @ The Cellar *19+
Fri Feb 26 – Tokyo Police Club – 9:45 @ Ozone
Fri Feb 26 – Bridges And Breakdowns – 5:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – Inward Eye – 6:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – Jaydee Bixby – 6:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – Two Hours Traffic – 7:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – Illscarlett – 8:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – The Higgins – 9:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – Marianas Trench – 9:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – Doc Walker – 10:00 @ Holland Park
Fri Feb 26 – TBC – 8:00 @ Livecity Yaletown**
Fri Feb 26 – Girl Talk – 9:30 @ Livecity Yaletown

Sat Feb 27 – Samiane – 6:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Sat Feb 27 – Alfa Rococo – 7:30 @ la Place de la Francophonie
Sat Feb 27 – Paul Filek – 1:00 @ Doolins Pub *19+
Sat Feb 27 – Matt Mays – 10:30 @ Atlantic Canada House *19+
Sat Feb 27 – The Stills – 10:15 @ Ozone
Sat Feb 27 – Illscarlett – 10:00 @ Ontario Pavillion *19+
Sat Feb 27 – Matt Mays – 6:30 @ Livecity Yaletown
Sat Feb 27 – Blue Rodeo – 9:30 @ Livecity Yaletown
Sat Feb 27 – Hey Rosetta! – 6:00 @ Holland Park
Sat Feb 27 – You Say Party!We Say Die! – 7:00 @ Holland Park
Sat Feb 27 – Tokyo Police Club – 9:00 @ Holland Park
Sat Feb 27 – Wide Mouth Mason – 9:30 @ Holland Park
Sat Feb 27 – Wintersleep – 10:00 @ Holland Park

Sun Feb 28 – Five Alarm Funk – 9:30 @ Ozone
Sun Feb 28 – Il Voce – 4:00 @ Robson Square

Jessica Murdy is a reporter with Black Press, working with agassizharrisonobserver.com

Caught up in the Olympic spirit

http://www.bcdailybuzz.com/media/5373/OLYMPIC_GAMES_-_Olympic_hockey_fans_blow_their_tops/

When I was asked by my boss if I’d be interested in covering the Olympic Games, my immediate response was obviously, yes… yes I am. I would be responsible for generating video, off-beat stories and mini vignettes for our online readers.

Being the intense guy that I am, I started gathering RSS feeds, websites, just about anything with the word Olympic in it. I started reading random blogs dedicated to free event listing, actual sporting event analysis, anything…

After maybe about three or four months before the Games were actually set to start, I think I started getting sick of it. Honestly, was Vancouver going to be that Olympic crazy? Were the streets going to be full of people chanting Go Canada, Go, while clad in red from head to toe? The answer: ABSOLUTELY YES.

Since the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Friday night, I have been completely emersed in the party. I’ve been whisked into the action all over town. Tracking down story ideas has been nothing short of dead easy. The only problem is figuring out which event to attend. Between athlete appearances, celebrity appearances and an all-access pass to all the best parties, I’m having the time of my life.

I can’t remember a time when Vancouver was this happening. I was seven years old when the World Expo was in town. I can remember a similar spirit in the air, however, I was young and only saw knees and pants. I can remember walking all over town from SkyTrain station to SkyTrain station, waiting in a sea of people for the next train.

On Tuesday night, when the Canadian men’s hockey team took to the ice against Norway, all those memories came flooding back. I was set to cover the game at the Molson Canadian Hockey House, about 100 metres away from GM… I mean, Canada Hockey Place. The number of bodies shoved in between the guardrails seemed infinite. It seemed like the entire country had decided to hang around outside the arena to catch the action. It was intense. People shouting, screaming, going absolutely mental for the home team.

As we move into Day 8 tomorrow, my nerves and emotions ramp up. The excitement for what’s to come is almost unbearable. Who will I meet tomorrow? What will I see? I’ve been blessed to be here in Vancouver, and I’m not going to let it pass without taking advantage.

See you out there!

Special moments at The Games

American Pairs skaters at Grouse Mountain

American Pairs skaters having some early-morning fun on the pond at Grouse Mountain.

There’s more to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Hundreds of thousands of people stream into Vancouver every day to take in free events surrounding the Games – from Atlantic Canada House on Granville Island, to NBC’s Today SHow taping live every morning at Grouse Mountain.

Andrea Bruns, a North Vancouver freelance photographer and writer, took her daughter to Grouse Wednesday to watch NBC’s Today Show live – and got to experience some special moments. Here it is in her words, and with her pictures:

By Andrea Bruns

Visit Andrea’s website

Looks like Olympic figure skaters also have fun at Grouse Mountain. Some of them appeared Feb. 17 before dawn at the skating pond to be broadcast for NBC’s Today show.

The live broadcast is happening every morning from 4 to 7 a.m. and is one of the numerous free events during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics at Grouse Mountain.

Everybody is able to attend, you just need to get up early. They always have Olympic athletes as guests; and usually one of the medalists from the previous day.

We didn’t get tickets for any Olympic competitions, but my daughter loves skating, so we decided to rise early Wednesday to go up there and meet American Pairs skaters Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett and Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig.

American Pairs skaters at Grouse Mountain NBC

American Pairs skaters Caydee Denney, Jeremy Barrett, Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig with NBC's Natalie Morales.

We arrived around 5:30 a.m. at the top of Grouse Mountain, just as the Olympian’s started to do some warm up rounds on the ice at the skating pond.

It looked like they were enjoying themselves without the pressure of the competition.

Also as special guest that morning, was Canada’s first female Gold Medalist of these Games, Maelle Ricker, who won Tuesday’s Ladies’ Snowboard Cross.

Maelle Ricker at Grouse Mountain

For my daughter and me, it was worthwhile getting up at an early hour.

If you would like to know who is coming next check out the postings at NBC Today Show.

Enjoy the Olympics!

Andrea Bruns is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in North Vancouver.

Today’s the day we’ve been waiting for

With only hours to go until the Olympic men’s hockey team takes to the ice for Game 1, the anticipation is uncontrollable. For as long as I can remember, the Olympic games have been about hockey for me.

I can remember sitting six inches away from the TV watching Tommy Salo stone Paul Kariya and then Peter Forsberg scoring the winner against Sean Burke in the shootout in the 1994 Lillehammer: Canada vs. Sweden gold medal hockey game. What a devastating loss. I can remember almost crying as the puck tight-roped the goal line, barely squeaking in.

But it was in 2002, when Canada struck gold against the Americans when I really felt the magic. I still get goose bumps thinking about the final minutes of the game, before Martin Brodeur threw off his mitts and got completely pummeled by his teammates.

We tore off out the front door into the streets, where car horns were blaring; people were crying; random games of street hockey appeared. I can even remember someone handing me a snow shovel to use as a goal stick. They said ‘hey, stand here. Just use this thing to stop the ball.’ What a moment.

In 2006, Italy was not so nice to Canada, finishing a dismal seventh place. I’m not sure what would happen here in Vancouver with another disappointing result. Would there be riots in the streets? Would people lose their minds? Probably not, but it’s pretty safe to say that there would be some questions to be answered and some heads would most likely roll in the upper rungs of the Hockey Canada brass.

Today: excitement, nervousness, anxiety and joy all fill my heart. I’m not sure why a simple game gets me so excited. I’m not sure why, for one moment, all the World’s problems seem to just go away. It’s not logical; it’s not even sane. But one thing’s for sure, I ain’t gonna fight it!

Let’s go boys……

Faces at The Olympic Games

The lighting of the Olympic cauldron at BC Place was a highlight Friday.

My friend Skinnee Brenda Howard got a call Friday morning, offering her a FREE ticket to the hottest event on the planet.

She was soon headed to the Opening Ceremonies of Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

The rest of the day, she sent me a flurry of text messages as she made her way downtown: “Transit is PACKED! What a rush!!” “Just ran into Kelly Hrudey!”

Kelly Hrudey got to meet my friend Skinnee Brenda Howard at the Vancouver Olympics

The thing I admire about Skinnee Brenda is her unbridled enthusiasm. She really wears her emotions on her sleeve, and I know she richly appreciated the chance to be at the Opening with 60,000 screaming Canadians and Canadians-for-a-day.

Here’s a couple pics Skinnee sent along Saturday after the event.

Day 3 – The party continues

The Olympics have been underway for three days now and those hanging around Vancouver are not ready to settle down. Not yet anyway.

The streets are crazy to say the least. A sea of red can be seen from every angle and chants of “Go Canada, Go” ring out though city corridors.

I’m not sure if it’s the sun poking through today, or the fact that it’s Sunday and Valentines Day, but the mood around here is especially vibrant.

http://www.bcdailybuzz.com/media/5353/OYLYMPIC_GAMES_-_Olympic_visitors_bask_in_some_much_needed_sun/

Couples, families, just about everyone are taking in street performers and some of the free shows. It’s nice to see, because some are saying the late-night events are not for the frugal. To put this in perspective, the average cost of a beer at one of the many county pavilions will run you around six bucks -that’s only for the swill- you’ll be digging deeper if you’re looking for a premium brew.

The word on the street around here has the Holland Heineken House in Richmond taking the top prize for the place to be, while the Irish and German Saxony houses follow close behind.

Despite some whose emotions have gotten the best of them after a few pops, little rowdy behavior has been seen. Maybe I’m just not at the right parties??

Without a doubt the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games have hammered this city hard. They’ve taken over every aspect of peoples’ lives.

It remains to be seen if the games will be good or bad for Vancouver in the long run, but while they’re here, the party is definitely worth it.

Watching Olympic hockey in style

http://www.bcdailybuzz.com/media/5322/OLYMPIC_GAMES_-_Sneak_peek_inside_the_Molson_Hockey_House/

As a member of the prestigious press corps for the Vancouver 2010 Games, I was given and early look inside a building (tent) that will undoubtedly be the place to be to watch all the Olympic hockey action. Now, typically high rollers and VIPs don’t fight for a chance to set up shop in a tent, but this aint no regular tent.

The Molson Canadian Hockey House has got to be the largest hockey-themed tent in the world. If it’s not the biggest, then it’s definitely the coolest. The place boasts three hi-def. jumbo screens, two bars and a whole whack of those old-school spinny-guy arcade machines. You know the ones? The big bubble with the little guys inside wearing a red Canada or USSR jersey?

The whole place is also rigged up with a massive stage where performances by the Barenaked Ladies, Sam Roberts and other top musical acts will help carry the party well into the early morning. Wayne Gretsky will even make an appearance.

Oh.. and did I mention the beer girls? They are not, not attractive.

On Wednesday, amongst 100 or so members of the press, I walked into this hockey heaven eager to see what all the fuss was about. I was more than impressed. Although all the $99 one-night passes are all sold out, and the fact that one would  have to take out a small bank loan for one of the $500 to $1,000 VIP passes (one night only), I highly recommend trying to get into this place.

It’s no secrete that watching hockey for Canadians is a passion. Most of us would be happy watching the game in black and white, so long as our team was playing for gold. However, if you get the chance, by some chance, to wiggle your way into the Hockey House, do it! It will not disappoint.

Touched by The Flame

http://www.bcdailybuzz.com/media/5310/Olympic_flame_arrives_in_Horseshoe_Bay/

That little video viewer has been a constant companion for three days, winking and flickering in the corner of my laptop screen.

It’s the live feed streaming the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. The relay has gone on for months, 23,000 or so people have carried it more than 40,000 km.

For the vast majority of that time, I ignored it.

No more. Not since Monday when the Lovely Miss Vickie (my wife) called all giddy-like to squeal that she’d actually held it. She came home with two new Canada hoodies, a couple of those bandwagon car flags, a smattering of Official Olympic Games keychains – and a picture of her holding The Torch.

So Tuesday morning I stood in the dark, relative chill with several hundred people, as a small, elderly woman ran within 15 feet of me. And I was mesmerized.
Skinnee Brenda and Touched by The Flame were there with reluctant children in tow – the teens would rather have been home in bed (where my son was). It won’t be many years before they thank their parents for rousting them to see something that will never be back.

I’ve watched this little video feed out of the corner of my eye, giving sharper attention as the crescendo of cheers ebbs and flows.

Like Tuesday, when a young woman, I’d say 7 months pregnant, held her ample belly with one hand and the torch high with the other as she jogged a few tentative strides, then settled into a walk for the balance of her 300 meters. The crowd, five deep, cheered and flapped their Canadian flags with all the more enthusiasm.
She beamed and waved and walked and the flags flapped all the harder.

The Relay route has been a litany of similar vignettes, played out in nanoseconds in a rolling red wave that’s steaming unstoppable toward B.C. Place Stadium and tomorrow’s Opening Ceremonies.

Oh wow – just now, a woman touched torches with the next runner to pass the flame. I sure hope she knew him, because the embrace was warm, tender and intimate.

It is a powerful thing, that simple flickering flame.

Here’s video from the Ceremonies at Peace Arch Park, with thousands of people on hand.