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Students wowed by Olympic torch

The Olympic torch won’t make its official visit to St. Albert for another month but some local school children have already managed to get their hands on it.

The Olympic torch won’t make its official visit to St. Albert for another month but some local school children have already managed to get their hands on it.

Local teacher Kelly Montpetit had a torch for a day and took it to several classes at V.J. Maloney and Neil M. Ross schools.

“A lot of the kids, when they held the torch, they were so excited and that was the greatest part,” Montpetit said.

In fact, the torch drew interest wherever she went.

“I had all these parents and kids coming up asking to touch the torch,” Montpetit said. “It was kind of a special feeling that day.”

The torch relay has been winding its way across Canada since Oct. 30. Montpetit’s cousin Darren Comeau, a Calgary resident, carried the torch on the relay’s second day, running along Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. Comeau brought his torch on a visit to the Edmonton area in late November and let Montpetit take it for a day.

It’s not a well-publicized fact that torch runners can buy and keep their torch for $350. When the runners complete their 300-metre run, their torch is immediately taken away, drained of fuel then locked so it can’t be refilled and relit. Only then do the runners get it back.

“They’ve made it so you can’t go back in and light it again,” Montpetit said. “It’s quite secretive and very organized. They’ve got guards all around you when you’re running too.”

There are 12,000 torches designed and made by Bombardier, according to the Vancouver 2010 website. They are made of stainless steel, aluminum and sheet moulding compound and weigh about 1.6 kilograms each. The torches burn for 12 to 15 minutes, fueled by a blend of propane, isobutane and hydrocarbons. The shape is inspired by the smooth, fluid lines left in snow and ice after playing winter sports.

Students at Neil M. Ross got a thrill from seeing the torch.

“They were pretty impressed and also shocked that it looked like it did,” said principal Sandy Cimino.

The torch relay will pass through St. Albert on Jan. 13. The Olympic winter games start Feb. 12 in Vancouver.