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Carrying a torch for Canada

Posted by Shira Springer, Globe Staff  February 13, 2010 12:28 AM

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I cannot think of a more diverse group of people to carry the Olympic flag than the group that walked in with it tonight. Donald Sutherland, Bobby Orr and Anne Murray were among those given the honor. Orr received a loud cheer from the crowd.

When it came time to take the torch around the arena, another Canadian athlete — the Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash — received a big round of applause. But the biggest cheers came for Wayne Gretzky. Many thought he would be the one to light the Olympic flame. There was a long, suspenseful pause as the final four torchbearers — Nash, Gretzky, speedskater Catriona LeMay Doan and skier Nancy Greene — stood at four points around the arena. It made me wonder if it was a commercial break on television. It certainly seemed that way inside the arena. My expectation was that there would be one final torchbearer. I couldn’t imagine who it would be, but that’s where the build up seemed headed. Strangely, the triumphant background music skipped and stopped, creating a hiccup in the build-up.

It soon became clear that one of the four cauldron legs was malfunctioning, a glitch at the most inopportune time. After the three legs were raised, an odd-looking futuristic cauldron emerged. It matched the strange and ultimately unsatisfying torch lighting ceremony. All four athletes lit the giant internal cauldron with four separate flames. After the internal lighting, Gretzky carried the flame outdoors to the external cauldron, which met with great approval and lots of camera flashes from the crowd. The announcer invited audience members to stay in their seats to watch the external cauldron lighting on the screens in the stadium. The whole moment fell flat.

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