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Grade 12 student Tyler Allison chosen as Whistler’s torchbearer

Whistler residents encouraged to ‘paint the town’ red when torch relay comes to town on Feb. 5



Like all Whistler high school students, Tyler Allison is right in the middle of cramming for his provincial exams.

But in between sitting for his three-hour math exam this week and preparing for his upcoming chemistry exam, Allison has something else to think about.

He has been chosen as Whistler's official community torchbearer during the Feb. 5 torch relay, an event which will culminate in Allison lighting the traveling cauldron at Whistler Medals Plaza that day.

"I've always thought it was amazing how far that torch travels and all the places that it goes," said Allison. "It's just so exciting. I'm one of the last ones to touch it and light the big cauldron before it goes to Vancouver."

The honour of being selected isn't lost on this teen, who has dreams of competing himself one day in the Olympics. Though he has been actively involved in ski racing with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club and is now part of the skier cross program, his passion is mountain biking.

"Ever since I was a little kid that was one of my dreams, to compete in the Olympics for Canada and win an Olympic medal," said Allison.

And he's determined to get there.

That's why he's spending up to 14 hours a week on the spin bike over the winter and six to seven hours of gym work.

That's why he was just at a five-day technical training camp in Las Vegas with the Canadian national team.

And he has his eyes set on Rio's summer Games in 2016.

But back to 2010 with the Winter Olympics in his own backyard, Allison calls carrying the torch and lighting the cauldron a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

He was handpicked this fall by the Olympic Torch Relay Community Task Force, made up of about 10 members of a cross-section of the community.

He was chosen from a long list of community candidates. Choosing one torchbearer to light the cauldron from that list was not easy, admitted Sharon Fugman with the municipality's 2010 Games Office.

"It was a decision that we reached after much debate because the candidates were so strong," she said.

The task force wanted to choose a younger member of the community because they wanted to give youth an opportunity to have a bigger presence at the Games.

When Allison's name and background were put forward, he met all the criteria.

"We felt that he really captured a lot of things that were important to us," said Fugman. "It's also great he's a summer and a winter athlete. He's a good student. He worked hard to achieve his goal. He has a dream and he's working hard to achieve it."

Allison will be officially presented to the community as Whistler's torchbearer at the chamber of commerce luncheon today.

In an effort to make sure as many community members as possible are included and take part in the torch relay, the municipality, in conjunction with the two elementary schools, will be holding a pancake breakfast for students on Feb. 5.

All students, like all community members, are encouraged to wear red on the day as part of the "Paint the Town Red" campaign from the Canadian Olympic Committee.

That's an initiative to encourage people to wear Canada's colours to support the more than 200 athletes who will represent Canada at the 2010 Games.

The route for the torch relay will not be released until Jan. 23. Stay tuned to next week's Pique for more details.



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