Olympic torch crosses border at Peace Arch

TUESDAY, FEB. 9, 2010, 2:02 P.M.

BLAINE, Wash. (AP) — The Winter Olympics torch made its only visit to the United States for a ceremony Tuesday at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine.

The torch was carried by skier Phil Mahre (mehr) of Yakima who won medals at the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid and the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo.

Mahre was cheered by a crowd of several thousand people, waving U.S. and Canadian flags and signs with the Olympics rings.

A childrens choir from nearby White Rock, B.C., sang the U.S. and Canadian anthems.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell applauded as Mahre lit a cauldron at the Peace Arch. A Canadian runner carries the torch back into British Columbia where the games begin Friday at Vancouver.

The Seattle Times reported today that he torch was on American soil for about two minutes after the flame had been flown from Greece in late October. It is near the end of a 28,000-mile relay that began in Victoria and has passed through some 1,000 cities and villages back and forth across Canada.

On Friday, it is scheduled to light the Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver’s B.C. Place in the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Times said.

Spectators began arriving before dawn Tuesday for the event.

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