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BC Place Stadium Opening Ceremonies Olympic Flame and Outdoor Flame

The lighting of the Olympic cauldron is always the showpiece moment of the opening ceremonies. The Vancouver Winter Games proved that the best laid plans can not always be executed. A hydraulic malfunction kept one of four pillars from rising to the occasion. Instead it remained below ground.

A famous Canadian athlete torch bearer had been stationed at each of the four pillars, intent on sending the four individual flames to meet at the top. NBA basketball star Steve Nash, speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan, skier Nancy Green and hockey great Wayne Gretzky were poised to set each of their flames rushing up a pillar.

The speed skater was left standing idle when her pillar failed to materialized. After a brief hesitation, the other three athletes were signaled to light their pillars despite the malfunction. The result can be seen in our lead photo above.

As originally planned, Gretsky then headed out of the stadium to light the second outdoor cauldron, near the Coal Harbour waterfront, as a spectacular fireworks display lite up the skies overhead. That flame will burn during the two weeks of the Vancouver Games.

The opening ceremonies were dedicated to Georgian Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvila, who tragically died during a training run earlier in the day – see disturbingly graphic crash photos and video here.

View more photos and video from the opening ceremonies below:

See Gretzky torch lighting here.