He doesn’t remember the street, only that he ran about 200 yards around the corner. In Nick Taylor’s hand was something he’ll never forget, though.
The Olympic Torch.
Taylor was one of an estimated 12,000 Canadians who helped take the eternal flame that had been lit at Mount Olympus in Greece across his homeland in advance of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
The route took 106 days, and Taylor’s run lasted just minutes.
“It went by really fast,” he says.
But he carried the torch just five days before the opening ceremonies through his hometown of Abbotsford, which is about two hours from Vancouver. Some people walked. Taylor remembers jogging when he got his turn.
“We were in kind of a shuttle bus,” he says. “There were maybe 4 or 5 different torchbearers and we all had our own torch. We only did about 200 meters and you passed it off and it keeps going.
“There were a lot of family and friends there so it was pretty cool.”
Taylor, who was playing golf at the University of Washington at the time, was nominated to carry the torch by an Abbotsford legislator. But as the run drew closer, there was a bit of a logistical issue – Taylor competed in a tournament in Hawaii the previous week.
He was slated to get back to Seattle at 9:40 p.m. on Saturday and was scheduled to run at 7 a.m. on Sunday in Merritt, which was about 4 hours away. At the last minute, though, Taylor’s run was switched to his hometown, which was about two hours closer and the last stop of the day.
“I still have the torch,” Taylor says. “It was not crazy heavy. I would say it was about 3 feet high, maybe 15 pounds.
“You light it together with their torch and they just kind of diffuse yours and you're done.”
Taylor doesn’t remember quite how he found out he had been selected to carry the torch. In fact, he thinks he was more shocked that anything.
“It was like, why me?” he says with a smile. “Whoever put my name in to suggest it, maybe they were a golf fan. The previous year I was the No. 1 amateur in the world.
“For sure it had something to do with golf -- not because I was a regular citizen.”
And at the time, Taylor says he doesn’t think he realized the significance of what he did. But as another Winter Games has rolled around, he understands.
“Looking back it was a really neat kind of accomplishment if you want to call it that or event that I've done,” he says. “So it's cool looking back now. But at the time it was just a neat thing to do to have family and friends out there to watch it.”
Taylor had to go back to classes in Seattle so he didn’t get to attend any of the events in Vancouver. But his girlfriend, Andie, who is now his wife, went, and friends were in Vancouver when the Canadian men’s hockey team beat the United States 3-2 in overtime to win gold.
“They said it was unbelievable how many people were there,” Taylor says.
Taylor, who is playing in the Genesis Open this week, plans to watch some of the Olympics this year. He was a snowboarder in high school and played hockey until he realized he was too small to make his NHL dreams come true. Golf has worked out pretty well, though, for the winner of the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship.
Taylor says it will be different this year since the NHL is not allowing its players to participate. But hockey is still big.
“That's what you grow up watching,” he says. “I feel like that, it doesn't make or break the Canadian Olympics but hockey, when the hockey teams win gold … that's what we take pride in with the No. 1 sport.”
And curling, he says, is a close second to hockey. Perhaps the Olympics least understood sport is “huge" back home but Taylor admits that he has never curled in his life.
“I understand it enough,” he says. “It's kind of like shuffleboard. but I couldn't tell you the rules. I just know a lot of times the Canadian team is favored going into it.”
Taylor says he still has the torch, as well as the silver track suit each participant got for the run. He’s sure his mother has put it somewhere safe but once he and his wife move out of their apartment and into a house he’ll be sure to find a place for the rare souvenir.
The torch, which has its own stand, still has the charcoal in it from when the flame was lit. His name isn’t on the front or anything but the Vancouver symbol and Olympic rings are.
“I'm not really one to show a bunch of stuff that I've accomplished,” he says. “But that's a cool thing and I take a lot of pride in that. So I'll display it somewhere. We'll see.”