With the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, just around the corner, I thought it fitting to spotlight how wood is used at the games. One example is the podiums that the winners stand atop when presented with their medals. It turns out that these podiums are, for the most part, homegrown.

The natural wood and acrylic glass podium design for the Vancouver 2010 medal presentations, known as Victory Ceremonies, were inspired by Vancouver and Whistler’s rugged snow-topped mountains, according to the Olympics’ Web site, which also says that the podiums — 23 in all — are each assembled from more than 200 pieces of precision-cut wood hewed from the forests of British Columbia, which is known for its towering red cedars and Douglas firs.

John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), said that communities across British Columbia have donated the wood. The donated rough lumber for the podiums was converted into panels and then cut into hundreds of complex jigsaw puzzle-like shapes using sophisticated computer controlled machinery at the University of British Columbia’s state-of-the-art Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, then assembled into the podiums by dozens of newly-trained woodworkers from Vancouver’s inner city. They constructed the podiums at the RONA Vancouver 2010 Fabrication Shop.

The podiums range in size from 4.8m to 15.3m in length, 1.7m to 5m in depth and 1/2m tall at their highest point — the spot reserved for gold medalists. The lightest podiums, built of Western red cedar, weigh approximately 200kg while others range up to 260kg. They will be used in 86 Olympic and 64 Paralympic Victory Ceremonies. To learn more facts about the podiums, click here.

It is refreshing to see an international event like the Olympics being used to promote local business in the host’s region. Does anyone out there have ideas how American companies could use this model to benefit some of our domestic businesses?

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