Vancouver 2010 medals each a one-of-a-kind work of contemporary Aboriginal

VANCOUVER, Oct. 15 /CNW/ - As unique as the world's top athletes and their awe-inspiring performances, every medal won at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be a one-of-a-kind work of art. The medals, revealed today, each feature a different crop of larger contemporary Aboriginal artworks and are undulating rather than flat - both firsts in Games history.

The dramatic form of the Vancouver 2010 medals is inspired by the ocean waves, drifting snow and mountainous landscape found in the Games region and throughout Canada. The Olympic medals are circular in shape, while the Paralympic medals are a superellipse, or squared circle. Both are equal in size. Their significant weight - between 500 grams to 576 g depending on the medal - represents the magnitude of the athlete's accomplishment. The Olympic medals are 100 millimetres in diameter and about six mm thick, while the Paralympic medals are 95 mm wide and about six mm thick. They are among the heaviest medals in Olympic and Paralympic history.

The gold, silver and bronze medals were designed with direct input from Olympic and Paralympic athletes who shared their experiences about medals they won at past Games and what they would like to see in future medals. Their stories and dreams helped shape the medals, which are being produced and supplied by Vancouver 2010 Official Supporters the Royal Canadian Mint and Canadian mining and metals giant Teck Resources Limited, in collaboration with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).

"An Olympic or Paralympic medal is a cherished possession for every athlete - it's what we all strive for when we train and compete," said Jill Bakken, an Olympic gold medallist for the United States in bobsleigh at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games. "To feel it being placed around your neck on the podium or seeing children's eyes light up when you show it to them are experiences that defy words. Seeing these beautiful medals today makes me wish I was competing again in 2010."

Daniel Wesley, a five-time Paralympian and 12-time medallist for Canada in alpine skiing and wheelchair racing at the Summer and Winter Games, agreed. "Every one of my medals has meaning and motivation because of the memories attached to them and the people I've been able to share them with, from family and friends to the crowds in the stadiums on those days. The 2010 Paralympic medals - and the care taken by the design team to ensure they're equal in size to the Olympic medals yet still unique in their artwork and shape - demonstrates to me, the public and other Paralympians how greatly our accomplishments and stories are valued."

The medals are based on two large master artworks of an orca whale (Olympic) and raven (Paralympic) by Corrine Hunt, a Canadian designer/artist of Komoyue and Tlingit heritage based in Vancouver, BC. Each of the medals has a unique hand-cropped section of the abstract art, making every medal one-of-a-kind.

For example, each medal will include its own signature elements of the orca and raven artwork, such as the suggestion of the orca's eye, the curve of its dorsal fin, or perhaps the contours of the raven's wing. A silk scarf printed with the master artwork will be presented to each Olympian or Paralympian with their medal enabling them to see how their medal connects with those awarded to other athletes at the Games to make the whole design.

Internationally renowned Canadian industrial designer and architect Omer Arbel, also of Vancouver, used his extensive knowledge of materials and fabrication processes to create the innovative undulating design of the medals, which are struck nine times each to achieve the distinctive look as part of the 30-step medal fabrication process. The Organizing Committee asked Hunt and Arbel to join their creative talents together on the medals project after they submitted separate designs proposals that both contained compelling elements. VANOC received 48 medal design ideas from across Canada and internationally after issuing a request for proposals in December 2007.

"The ultimate symbol of a dream come true for an athlete is an Olympic or Paralympic medal," explained VANOC's Chief Executive Officer John Furlong. "They are the reward for years of effort and sacrifice on the part of the athlete and have the power to inspire children and lift the spirits of an entire country.

"This two-year project has been a truly collaborative effort between inspired designers, artists and craftsmen who dedicated themselves to the challenge of finding beautiful, uniquely Canadian designs to honour the medallists and tell the stories of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games," he added.

The orca, designed across four panels in the style of a traditional West Coast First Nations bentwood box, is often associated with the attributes of strength, dignity and teamwork. The sleek and powerful black and white whales are common to the waters off Canada's West Coast but are also found in all the world's oceans.

The strong black wings and proud beaked profile of the raven appear in a three-part composition in the style of a totem pole. The bird, species of which can be found around the globe, is often associated with transformation and healing abilities and represents determination, creativity and wisdom.

The full descriptions explaining the design and artwork, as found in the materials presented to the athletes with their medals, are available at

In addition to the Aboriginal art, the obverse side of the medals is embossed with the Olympic Rings or Paralympic agitos and the hand-cropped section of the orca or raven design is lasered on with a subtle wood grain effect.

On the reverse side, the medals contain the official names of the Games in English and French, the official languages of Canada and the Olympic Movement, as well as Vancouver 2010's distinctive emblems and the name of the sport and the event the medal was awarded in. On the Paralympic medals, braille is also used. The entire medal is protected to prevent tarnishing, nicks and scratches.

The Games motto With Glowing Hearts/Des plus brillants exploits is written in white lettering on the medal's blue and green ribbon where it will rest at the base of the neck.

The Royal Canadian Mint will produce 615 Olympic and 399 Paralympic medals at their headquarters in Ottawa, ON, for the 2010 Winter Games. They started striking the medals in July 2009 and will finish the historic task in November. The Mint also manufactured the medals for the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.

"The Mint assembled a tremendous pool of talented engineers, engravers, die technicians, and press operators to channel decades of experience into bringing the Vancouver 2010 medals to life," said Ian E. Bennett, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. "These medals are the pinnacle of metal fabrication and craftsmanship and worthy tributes to the athletes who will triumph here mere months from now."

Teck Resources, a Vancouver-based diversified metals company, is supplying the metals used in the production of the Olympic and Paralympic medals. The metals are from Teck's operations in Canada, including British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Alaska, Chile and Peru.

"Our employees worldwide are honoured to supply the metals for the medals that will be cherished by the world's best winter athletes in 2010," said Teck's president and CEO, Don Lindsay. "We're also excited that these medals will contain recycled metal recovered from end-of-life electronics, consistent with the sustainability philosophy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

For more information on the medals for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, visit The materials include a making of the medals video, photos, backgrounders, as well as feature stories on a variety of topics. Video will also be posted to a FTP site, which can be accessed by e-mailing for password information.

Note to Photo Editors:

Images of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic medals are available as high resolution downloads from the media centre image gallery at

About the Royal Canadian Mint

The Royal Canadian Mint, an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is the Crown corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada's circulation coins. The Royal Canadian Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, offering a wide range of specialized, high-quality coinage products and related services on an international scale such as foreign circulation coins, numismatics, bullion and refinery services. For more information on the Royal Canadian Mint, its products and services, visit

About Teck Resources Limited

Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with major business units focused on copper, metallurgical coal, zinc, gold and energy. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, its shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols TCK.A and TCK.B and the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TCK. Further information about Teck can be found at


VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit for more information.

    Flash Quotes on the Vancouver 2010 Medals

    International Olympic Committee

"When we were presented with the Olympic medal design by VANOC a few months ago, we knew they had something special and inspiring to say and share with the world," said Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). "These medals are a beautiful and fitting tribute to the athletes who will shine and be forever remembered as the heroes and heroines of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. They'll also call to mind the hospitality and generous spirit of all Canadians who welcomed the world in 2010 whenever they're viewed."

International Paralympic Committee

"The Vancouver 2010 team has outdone itself in the design of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games' medals," said Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). "The choice of the raven as the artwork is especially important to us because it symbolizes the powers of transformation and determination - qualities every Paralympian embodies on and off the field of play. No doubt the beauty of these medals will spur them even higher as they strive to reach their dreams and triumph against adversity yet again in 2010."

Government of Canada

"The 2010 Winter Games' medals perfectly capture the beauty of our landscape from coast to coast to coast, and are a testament to Canadian ingenuity in their ground-breaking creative and technical elements," said the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport). "We hope all Olympic and Paralympic medal winners will wear these medals with pride as the ultimate symbol of their athletic achievements - and as proof that their dreams came true at Canada's Games in 2010."

Province of British Columbia

"We are all looking forward to seeing a Canadian win Olympic gold at home for the first time ever and being presented with one of these stunning medals," said BC Premier Gordon Campbell. "These medals depict our country's natural beauty as well as our rich heritage and reflect the true spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

City of Vancouver

"The Vancouver 2010 medals are truly unique," said Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver. "They visually capture some of the key icons of our amazing natural environment, and they'll be an incredible reminder of the achievements of our athletes who are fortunate enough to win them during the Games."

Resort Municipality of Whistler

"I'm sure there will be huge excitement with Whistler residents and visitors alike to witness the nightly presentations of these beautiful medals at Whistler Medals Plaza to the athletes who have triumphed in our midst," said Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed. "These moments will be the highlight of the festivities we have planned."

Four Host First Nations

"Every athlete who is fortunate enough to seize the day and stand on the podium here in 2010 will have a piece of Aboriginal artwork resting near their heart," said Tewanee Joseph, executive director and chief executive officer of the Four Host First Nations, comprising the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. "Seeing our symbols used for such an important and lasting icon of the Games - and by a First Nations artist - is a moment of tremendous significance for Aboriginal peoples across Canada."

Corrine Hunt (designer/artist)

"The orca is a beautiful creature that is strong but also lives within a community. I felt the Olympic (Games) are a community, too. The athletes may be training but they're always somehow connected to their community, to their teammates, or to their country. The orca is a creature that has wonderful capabilities but can't really survive without its pod."

"My design for the Paralympic medal - a raven on a totem rising - is close to my heart and in honour of my uncle who is a paraplegic. The raven is a creature that is all things and I think Paralympic athletes have that in them. They're sometimes given challenges and they rise above them and the raven does the same. I think the creativity of the raven gives us hope - to accept when things don't work out and really rejoice when they do."

Omer Arbel (designer)

"For me, it was really important that in some way every medal would be completely unique from every other medal; and yet be connected to each other and to Corrine's larger artworks in some profound manner. It's a beautiful idea because it means on a conceptual level you need all the medals together to complete the artworks. I've always thought of the Olympic Games as a catalyst for great contemporary design. It's exciting to have arrived at a piece of work that challenges people's expectations of what a medal can be."

    Medal-winning athletes reflect on their medals and what they mean to

Veronica Brenner, 2002 Olympic silver medallist in aerials for Canada

"The great part about the medals is it's something that reminds you for the rest of your life of the journey. Every single medal and every athlete have their own story about what they had to put into it and how they got there. A medal should be shared. I know I wasn't alone in winning this medal. . . When I was standing up on the podium the last person I was thinking of was myself."

    Karolina Wisniewska, six-time Paralympic medallist in alpine skiing for

"There is a moment when they go and put the medal around your neck and that's an amazing moment because you're just like, 'Yeah, it's mine. Here it is. I got it.'"

Henrik Sedin, 2006 Olympic gold medallist for Sweden in ice hockey

"It was nice to be able to show mom and dad the medal. They did a lot of things for us growing up and put a lot of time into driving us to different rinks, practices and games so it was nice for them to actually be able to see the gold medal up close."

Daniel Sedin, 2006 Olympic gold medallist for Sweden in ice hockey

"You work so hard growing up to be able to play for your team and country and to be able to win the Olympic gold medal for your country is a special feeling."

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at Images are free to accredited members of the media/


For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: Jennifer Young, VANOC Communications, Tel: (604) 403-3589, E-mail:; Christine Aquino, Royal Canadian Mint, Tel: (613) 993-9999, E-mail:; Catherine Hart, Teck Resources, Tel: (604) 699-4503, E-mail:

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