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The 2010 Olympic torch is shown in this handout photo.
VANOC Handout/The Canadian Press

Vancouver Olympic designer dies at age 40

The Globe and Mail
By Josh Wingrove, The Globe and Mail Posted Friday, August 21, 2009 9:22 PM ET

Leo Obstbaum, the director of design for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games who envisioned both its mascots and medals, passed away suddenly at the age of 40, Thursday.

"Leo's passing is a deep loss to the VANOC team and the entire organization's thoughts and prayers are with the Obstbaum family," VANOC spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade said in an e-mailed statement.

"Obstbaum's design leadership and influence are evident throughout VANOC's visual identity, including such iconic elements as the mascots, the Look of the Games, the torch designs, and Olympic and Paralympic medals (yet to be unveiled)."

In an internal message, VANOC chief executive officer John Furlong paid tribute to the Games employee.
"Leo is everywhere you look, in every colour, every texture, in every little bit of Vancouver 2010," he wrote. "Leo led and influenced the design of some of the most iconic pieces of the 2010 Winter Games. His spirit and daring inspiration has touched absolutely everything and because of him memories of the Games will live on for generations, a true enduring legacy of what went on here in Vancouver."

Mr. Obstbaum was born in Buenos Aires in 1969 but moved to Barcelona as a child, according to a profile on his website.
In 1990, he founded his first visual communication studio. His previous credits included designing the wardrobe for the anniversary of the Barcelona Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.

He "fell in love" with Vancouver on his honeymoon, according to his VANOC profile, and moved to the city in late 2005. In June, 2006, he joined VANOC as its director of design.

He is survived by his wife and daughter.

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