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It took a year of planning, 402 days of precision manufacturing, and the contribution of Mint engineers, engravers, die technicians, machinists and production experts to create 1,014 unique and unforgettable Vancouver 2010 Winter Games athlete medals. This team of Royal Canadian Mint employees worked tirelessly to bring the ground-breaking vision of the medal designers to reality. Their innovation, craftsmanship and unparalleled technical skill resulted in unique and remarkable medals that will be truly treasured by their eventual owners.
Just as winning a Winter Olympic or Paralympic medal defines an athlete's career, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fashion a part of Winter Games history is a moment that our employees will cherish for a lifetime. Here are their names and, in their own words, some of their reflections on the privilege of making the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games medals.
Rick is a member of the Engineering Design Team. He was responsible for the upfront quoting of this project. He was also in charge of documenting the material & labour requirements for the production of each medal.
"My greatest memory will be knowing I had the great pleasure to be a small part in producing these incredible one-of-a-kind Winter Games medals that will reward these amazing athletes for all of their hard work and training. To be able to look on with the rest of the world watching the pride and joy these athletes will show when up on the podium receiving their medal, and knowing I had a small part in this moment."
Vince is an engineer who worked primarily on the Paralympic medals. He prepared technical drawings, 2D, 3D renderings and a video presentation of the medals for the approval of the Organizing Committee for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games (VANOC). He prepared the medal hanger specifications and provided individual medal drawing specifications for the production department and laser etching.
"The Athletes and the Royal Canadian Mint employees have one thing in common and that is we both aim for excellence."
Dr. Xianyao Li
Xianyao is the Mint's Executive Director of Advanced Engineering led the technical team.
"Nothing cannot be done. Drops of falling water can penetrate and cut a stone. This is how we have worked in the medal project. As inspired by the Olympic spirit, each member of the medal project team has contributed with their talent and dedication to the success of the medals. Great team!"
Renato Romozzi first joined the Mint as a mechanical technologist in 1986. Highly experienced in the field of mechanical engineering, Renato was asked to oversee the daily management of all manufacturing activities related to the Vancouver 2010 athlete medals. As one of the first members of the team, Renato played an influential role in sourcing specialized equipment required to produce the medals.
"When these medals find their rightful owners, they are going to represent Canada all over the world. We're so proud. They're such beautiful medals.
I don't think we've made anything that comes close to the complexity. We've never put together a group of people like we did for this medal; a lot of people, a lot of technologies. It was all done with love."
Stéphane Ouellette is an experienced machinist who produced the original prototypes of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Medals.
"The most rewarding aspect of working on the 2010 Olympic medals is knowing that they are going to marvel people around the world. These are such amazing medals and I personally touched every single one. I can't wait to watch these Games and see the athletes' reactions as they have them around their necks.
I've participated in interesting projects in my life… parts for a Mars space mission, parts for bomb-disabling robots, part for F-18s, but these parts were only functional. The medals represent years and years of training, suffering, injuries, compromising… These medals are the soul, blood and tears of an athlete's accomplishment.
It was pretty intense and emotional for me to be part of the medals unveiling in Vancouver in October 2009. Just the intro followed by an intense AAAAH… from the whole audience as the curtain was lifted off the medals was rewarding. For me it was my 15 months of hard work paid off in tears. It was really unforgettable."
As a 29-year veteran of the Mint working in the Medals Branch, Mark was a key contributor to the Olympic medal project. Not only was he responsible for striking the medals themselves, but he was also in charge of purchasing new press equipment for the project.
"It is a privilege and honour to be able to participate in such a memorable project as this. I hope that my contribution has helped the team in the challenging process of making these extraordinary medals."
André Lauzon's role in the creation of the Olympic medals was to chisel the excess material (after striking) off of all of medals, without damaging them, before they moved on to the next stages.
"It was very rewarding for me to work on this wonderful project and to know that I contributed to the Olympic Games in my country. When I see the medals around the necks of our athletes, I'll be very proud! The Olympic Games may not return to Canada for many years, but I'll be able to tell my children that I contributed to making the medals for 2010. And wow, will that ever be rewarding for me!!!"
Christian Miron's role in this project was to make the display for the medals. The challenge in this role was to obtain a perfect assembly size.
"Working on this project was very rewarding because very few of us in the world have the chance to accomplish such a feat."
Toan Nguyen's role in the Olympic Medal team involved developing a gold plating process for all the Gold Olympic and Paralympic Medals.
"There were many challenges in developing the gold plating process, but I am quite happy that we were able to overcome them. That is one of the rewarding feelings: a job well done. But the most rewarding aspect of working on the 2010 Olympic medals is the fact that I have contributed to the production of those beautiful gold medals which will be awarded to the best of the very best athletes in the world. And that is a great feeling to have."
Jason Wright first joined the Mint in 2003 as a process engineer. He was one of the individuals who worked with VANOC on the initial concept, design and process development of the athletes' medals. As the first engineering member of the team, he played an influential role in developing the fabrication process and sourcing the equipment required to produce the medals.
"It was a privilege to work with such a great and dedicated team. To actually think we had the opportunity to design and fabricate the athletes' medals for Vancouver is an historic opportunity that we will forever be proud of."
Paul Vindasius works in the Concast (continuous casting) department at the Mint. He is responsible for melting raw materials in the Mint's holding furnace. The material is then pulled out of the furnace and cast into long bars which get rolled out in the rolling room.
"I'm a big fan of all sports and I can't wait to see if our Canadian athletes' hard work and dedication results in having one of our absolutely stunning medals draped around their necks. Go Canada!!!"
Jean Bérubé is one of the Mint's most experienced machinists.
"I've worked at the Mint for 30 years and this was my first Olympic medal project. It was very gratifying and interesting."
Roger Labonté is Manager of the Mint's medals branch, as well as the Technical Manager of the production department. He was involved with Jason Wright, Renato Romozzi and Mark Oelke in developing a process to replicate the original Olympic medal prototype at the Mint's facilities. He oversees various stages of the production process, including casting of the silver, rolling, blanking and striking.
"The part I enjoyed most of this project was actually the start-up discussions. This is a product we have never done before and it took a real team effort to make them happen. We needed to collaborate and share ideas; it brought us all closer together."
Zacharie Barbe and Patrick Tremblay
Zacharie Barbe and Patrick Tremblay are temporary employees at the Mint who work in our Machine Shop. Although their main task has been to support the shop's everyday activities while the rest of the team works exclusively on the Olympic project, they had several opportunities to process the medals as well.
"I really enjoyed working on this project. It was hard, but I learned a lot and I'm anxious to see the athletes receive their medals." (Zacharie Barbe)
"I'm really looking forward to watching the Games and seeing the athletes' reactions when they receive our medals!" (Patrick Tremblay)
Binder Khangura is responsible for managing the quality of the Olympic medals produced at the Mint. Not only was he in charge of the inspection process of the medals, but he also coordinates with VANOC to be sure the Mint's efforts are meeting their expectations.
"The most rewarding part about working on the medals is being part of something so unique. The project is setting an incredibly high benchmark for the rest of the world. The 2010 Olympic medals were a great challenge. They are far more advanced than anything that has been done before and I am very fortunate to have been able to play a role in this process."
Dan Mallett is the Olympic and Paralympic Medals project manager. He is responsible for the operational aspects of the project and for ensuring the project meets the requirements agreed upon by VANOC and the Mint. His main function is to monitor and track the project's progress. This task includes: coordinating the production team at the Mint, managing the Project Risk and Action Register, being the key point of contact for the project and presenting the project progress to senior management.
"In a way, we're trying to put everything into these medals; the Olympic spirit, the athlete's pride, the character of the place where they experienced this unforgettable moment. The life of the medal begins once awarded and will inspire thousands of lives that it comes in contact with."
Simon Pflanz joined the Mint as a Drafting Technologist in November 2004. As an experienced mechanical engineer and CATIA CAD specialist, Simon was directly involved in designing the medals. He created CAD models and drawings for the Olympic and Paralympic prototype designs and created models of jigs, fixtures and handling trays required in the production process. He also created and managed data that was necessary for the laser engraver/etcher to apply both the Olympic text and the individualized art motifs that are unique to each medal.
A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Simon graduated from Carleton University with a degree in Aerospace Engineering.
"For me, what has been most rewarding aspect of the project has been to able to satisfy the request of the late Leo Ostbaum to "have the best medals ever" for our 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games hosted by Canada in Vancouver. I think we have achieved this as a team – the VANOC design group and our RCM engineering and engraving departments and our indispensable machine shop personnel. We were able to hold the vision of the designers, Omer Arbel and Corrine Hunt under guidance of Leo Ostbaum, to create something unique to our high RCM standard that will forever be remembered."