For the first time in Olympic Games history, each medal for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, revealed today, will be one-of-a-kind featuring contemporary Aboriginal art and with an undulating, rather than flat, design.
Inspired by the ocean waves, drifting snow and mountainous landscapes of Canada, the medals are also among the heaviest ever struck for an Olympic and Paralympic Games weighing in at between 500 and 576 grams.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By the numbers: the medals of the vancouver 2010 winter games
-20: Temperature in degrees Celsius used to test the medals ability to maintain their integrity and durability in cold weather.
2.05: Kilograms of gold Teck provided for the gold medals.
6: All gold medals for the 2010 Winter Games are plated with six grams of gold.
6.8: Metric tonnes of circuit board from end-of-life electronics diverted from landfills for the making of the medals.
9: The number of times each medal is struck (in three sets of triple strikes) to achieve its unique undulating design.
48: The number of medal design ideas submitted by artists across Canada and internationally after VANOC issued its request for medal proposals in December 2007.
90: The number of kilograms the medal ribbons can withstand (equal to 200 pounds).