Lumberjacks? Gretzky? Canada awaits Opening Ceremony surprises

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — With the Winter Olympics now hours away, the speculation here builds.

    Can Lindsey Vonn shake off injury to dominate on the slopes? Will Canada finally win a gold medal on home soil?

    Friday night, however, what the local populace
    wonders most is just who will be the final torch bearer to light the
    Olympic cauldron. And might there, in fact, be two cauldrons?

    A big, white box located to the side of the
    International Broadcast Center here has led to rumors that there could
    be two cauldrons — one inside BC Place (this will be the first Opening Ceremony held indoors) and another outdoors.

    During a final pre-Games news conference, officials
    from the Vancouver Organizing Committee sidestepped questions with the
    deftness of Fred Astaire.

    “I’m not going to comment true or false about
    anything other than that there’s a lot of information flying around out
    there that is inaccurate,” said John Furlong, chief executive of the organization committee. “And that’s a fact.”

    Much of the “information flying around out there”
    came after a few rehearsals this week. Some attendees were quickly
    posting thoughts on Twitter and Facebook that found their way into
    mainstream media.

    “I heard it involves Sarah McLachlan and performers dressed as lumberjacks,” wrote one commenter in one of
    the city’s two daily newspapers, The Province. “How embarrassing.”

    The reality that the Games are near hit the city in earnest Thursday as the torch finally touched into Vancouver after a 105-day journey (at 106 days, this will be the longest domestic relay in Olympic history).

    Games officials estimated that roughly 500,000 people watched some part of the relay on Thursday.

    Most of the speculation of the final torch bearer has centered on hockey great Wayne Gretzky,
    who has yet to have a role in the procession (though his father,
    Walter, will run a leg on Friday) and who came to town Wednesday,
    dutifully avoiding the questions of reporters.

    At past Olympics, reporters have sometimes been
    handed a guide detailing the Opening Ceremony to help in coverage on
    the promise to not reveal its contents until afterward. But that won’t
    be the case here as officials said Thursday the guides won’t be
    available until Friday night.

    Furlong promised only that the ceremony will be
    “full of music and surprise and fun and will show Canada the way we
    want you to see it.”

    What exactly the last part of that statement means
    he wouldn’t detail, though he pointed to an American reporter and said
    that internationally “often, people think we are you.”

    So on Friday night, apparently, Canada will try to prove that it is not.

    (c) 2010, The Seattle Times.

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