The Olympic flame arrived to the jubilation of thousands in the ski resort of Whistler, the first Olympic venue stop for the torch relay.

The British Columbia town erupted in a party mood Friday, a week before the Winter Games begin in Vancouver and ahead of the start of alpine skiing events there on February 13.

“After seven years of hard work, we’re ready,” Mayor Ken Melamed said.

The arrival of the torch had been a long time coming. Vancouver and Whistler were awarded the games in 2003 after failed bids for the 1968, 1972 and 1976 editions.

It was welcomed in Whistler on the 99th day of the torch relay and was carried into Skiers Plaza by a member of this year’s Canadian Olympic team, a former Canadian Olympic icon and an Olympic hopeful.

Freestyle skier Julia Murray - daughter of the late Dave Murray, a member of the Crazy Canuks downhill racing team of the late 1970s and early 1980s - handed the torch over to another Crazy Canuk, Steve Podborski, who won a bronze medal at the 1980 Olympics and became the first North American to win the World Cup downhill title in 1982.

Podborski skied the torch down a slope and passed it on to student Tyler Allison of Whistler, who hopes for future Olympic glory.

By the time the torch is used to light the Olympic cauldron on Friday in Vancouver, more than 12,000 runners will have carried the torch through 1,036 Canadian communities and over more than 45,000 kilometres, making it the longest domestic relay in Olympic history.


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