Friday, February 12, 2010

Who Will Light the Torch?

The Winter Olympics are filled with great memories for Americans. In less than two weeks, we will observe the 30th anniversary of what is probably the best memory — the U.S. hockey team's triumph over the Russians in 1980.

Twenty–two years later, when the Winter Olympics returned to the United States, members of that team lit the torch at the opening ceremony. Considering that 2010 is the 30th anniversary of their achievement, it probably would have been more appropriate for them to light the torch this year — but the Games are in Canada, not the United States.

The 2010 Winter Games begin today in Vancouver, and Steve Almasy of wonders who will light the torch tonight.

It's a good question, and the answer is a closely guarded secret. Almasy reports that speculation has centered on hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who was the executive director of the Canadian national men's hockey team at the 2002 Olympics. He also says that Betty Fox, the mother of Terry Fox, has been gaining support.

Terry Fox, in case you don't know, was a Canadian hero. An osteosarcoma victim, he started out on a cross–Canada "Marathon of Hope" in 1980 to benefit cancer research. But he ultimately had to give it up as his cancer spread. He died in 1981.

"The idea of a hologram of Fox carrying the torch the final steps also has been floated," Almasy says.

Personally, I've never been particularly interested in who lit the torch at the Olympics. It's always seemed to me to be similar to the ball that drops in Times Square on New Year's Eve — it was something that was going to happen anyway. As a journalist, I guess, in my mind, it's always been a "dog bites man" story. The real news would be if the ceremony got disrupted in some way.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, I remember watching the opening ceremony only because of my concerns that terrorists, only a few months removed from the September 11 attacks, might try something. But nothing unusual happened. And, hopefully, nothing unusual will happen this time.

Well, the opening ceremonies will be televised at 8 p.m. (Central) on NBC.

In the meantime, writes Lori Culbert of the Vancouver Sun, "we'll have to wait until this evening" to learn the identity of the torchbearer.

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