Torch Design

Inspired by Canada; Made for Canadians

“When they hold it in their hands, I want them to be proud.”  - Leo Obstbaum, director, Design

For Leo Obstbaum and the design team that developed the 2010 Olympic Torch concept, the project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

What started with some words and ideas quickly became sketches and computer renderings.  An industrial design team from Bombardier — a company known worldwide for leading innovations in transportation and aerospace — was assembled, and a few fortunate designers were given a significant project; one they could carry in their hearts for years, with an end result that would never go out of style.

 “When asked for my opinion about the design or the project, I don’t know what to say other than this is a project I usually would only watch on television,” said Lise Carrière who is VANOC planning manager in the design and brand team.  “But now I am a part of it. It’s something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life”. 

There are many constraints when designing a torch, especially one that needs to function in Canada’s extreme winter weather. The design team planned, calculated, consulted and tested tirelessly. Bombardier brought their intimate knowledge of industrial design and innovation; VANOC incorporated the overall vision of the 2010 Winter Games brand essence.  The result of the teamwork is a collaborative process that maximized everyone’s strengths, and properly balanced form, function and cost, yielding magnificent results. 

Some of the functional elements to consider when designing an Olympic Torch for Canada in the winter:

  • Must be able to be handled by people of all ages and sizes
  • Must be easy to transfer the flame between torches
  • Must burn for at least 12 to 15 minutes
  • Burner must produce a visible flame in all weather conditions
  • Must be adaptable to attach or fix to alternative modes of transportation
  • Must be able to be manufactured in high quantities so each Olympic Torchbearer may purchase their torch as a commemorative keepsake

The 2010 Olympic Torch takes its inspiration from the cool, crisp and modern lines that are left behind in the snow and ice from winter sports.  The fluid, dynamic shape of the torch conveys a sense of youthful optimism and the size of the 2010 Olympic Torch shows not only that Canada is a country of bountiful size, but also has enormous potential and heart.

Small touches on the finished 2010 Olympic Torch design make it truly Canadian.  A maple leaf on the back of the torch is not only a symbolic element, but has an important functional role as an air intake hole to ensure the Olympic Flame burns brightly.  The 2010 Winter Games Motto “With Glowing Hearts/Des plus brillants exploits” is engraved on the torch opposite where the flame will burn. 

The Olympic Flame was top of mind when designing the burner system for the 2010 Olympic Torch.  When lit, people all across the country will see a bright, magnificent flame.  Shining as a symbol of peace, brotherhood and friendship, the Olympic Flame will light up the 1,036 communities that will connect to make our Path of Northern Lights when the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay makes its 45,000-kilometre journey across Canada.  The vessel that will carry the Olympic Flame is a Torch for all Canadians.

Discover the 2010 Olympic Torch

A Canadian Touch

The 2010 Olympic Torch will showcase a maple leaf, sparking Canadian pride. The maple leaf also functions as an air intake to ensure the Olympic Flame burns brightly as the torchbearer carries it across Canada. 

The Olympic Flame

Symbolizing peace, brotherhood and friendship, the Olympic Flame will make its way across Canada, connecting communities and people.  The presence of the Olympic Flame atop the torch can be seen by all who join in the celebration.

Burner system: stainless steel, copper and brass

A Brilliant Light

The Olympic Flame will be passed from torch to torch, burning with intensity and promoting the Olympic Ideals of peace and hope.

A double-burner system, developed by Bombardier, will keep the fire burning.  

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Emblem

A contemporary interpretation of the inukshuk, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic emblem is part of the Olympic Torch design. Much like the Olympic Flame, inuksuit have come to represent hope and friendship. 

2010 Olympic Torch Specifics

Inspiration: the smooth, fluid lines left in snow and ice after playing winter sports

Height: 37.125 inches/ 94.5 centimetres

Weight: 3.5 pounds/1.6 kilograms

Operational temperature: -50° Celsius to +40° Celsius

Fuel: blend of propane, iso-butane and hydrocarbons

Materials used: white composite finish, stainless steel burner, aluminum core

2010 Winter Games Motto

With Glowing Hearts/Des plus brillants exploits, the 2010 Winter Games motto, is engraved in the Olympic Torch. The motto connects each torchbearer to the athletes competing in the Games and imparts a feeling of pride in all who will carry the torch.