Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Your Average Neckwear...

I have to admit, from what I recall seeing Michael Phelps donned with all of those Olympic Medals at the 2008 Beijing games, I wasn't paying too much attention to the medals if you know what I mean. But our neighbor Vancouver has caught my attention: they just unveiled the designs of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games medals. They're awesome.

The process took over two years, beginning in December 2007 with over 48 proposals from Canadian and internationally-run design firms. Before I go on to explain the awesomeness that is the design, I'd like to mention these are the heaviest medals ever made for the Olympic games, weighing in at a record 500-576 grams. And they're made from recycled electronics, so your old HP could be hanging on the neck of the next Michelle Kwan.

Hunt, a Vancouver-based artist of Komoyue and Tlingit heritage, chose the orca and the raven as motifs for the Olympic and Paralympic medals respectively, representing important attributes in Canadian Aboriginal history. The Paralympians symbol, the rave, is often associated with transformation and healing abilities and represents determination, creativity and wisdom. The Ocra is often associated with the attributes of strength, dignity and teamwork. The sleek and powerful black and white whales are common to travel in pods through the waters off Canada’s West Coast, but are also found in all the world’s oceans.

Each medal will be struck nine times (this is just one of 30 steps in the fabrication process) to achieve a distinctive look. The medals are undulating and wavy (representing Canada's mountains, sea and snow) rather than flat, a first in the Games history.

The Royal Canadian Mint has been charged with making all 1014 medals for the games. Their web-site offers an interactive tour and video, so you can see how they're made.

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