Every athlete who ascends the podium during the 2010 Games will take home a unique medal, said Olympic organizers Thursday morning during a medal unveiling at the Athletes’ Village.
The design of each of 1,014 gold, silver or bronze medals is taken from hand-cropped sections of two large works of West Coast art — an orca for the Olympics, a raven for Paralympics.
It means the designs, by local artist/designer Corrine Hunt, could be roughly recreated — if someone had the time to arrange the medals like a precious-metal jigsaw.
“We wanted each piece to be completely unique,” said co-designer Omer Arbel. “We felt that, unlike other medals in other Games, it was important that each athlete take home a piece that was different than every other athlete.”
Each medallist will also receive a silk scarf with the original art so they can see where their medal fits in the overall design.
The medals are not flat, but gently undulated, “inspired by ocean waves.” The Olympic medals are 10 centimetres in diameter and are circular in shape, while their Paralympic cousins are squared circles.
At more than half a kilogram each, they are among the heaviest medals in Olympic history.
“I thought there was no way we’d be able to replicate it,” said Stephane Ouellette, a machinist at the Royal Canadian Mint.
VANOC executive vice-president Dave Cobb said the medals were created over a two-year period and in consultation with athletes, who wanted something that was unique from other Games, uniquely Canadian and simply “big and heavy.”