Planning hiccups are part of an Olympic Games, so it was in Ancient Olympia that everyone held their breath Wednesday when a practice lighting of the 2010 Olympic flame didn't seem to be working.
But when the parabolic mirror finally set the torch alight, the look on the face of the actress playing the high priestess was one mirrored on the faces of Vancouver Olympic officials.
It was a look that said yes, this is finally beginning.
Thursday's lighting of the Olympic flame kicks off a seven-day relay in Greece before the torch travels to Victoria, B.C., to begin the longest domestic relay in Olympic history, concluding in Vancouver on Feb. 12, 2010, to start the Games.
It's a relay filled with logistical challenges and making sure the flame gets lit only once.
But the sun was in Vancouver's favour Wednesday and the flame that was lit during the practice run will serve as a backup in case rain clouds Thursday's formal event.
Bad weather disrupted the ceremony for the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, and the past three Winter Olympics — in Turin in 2006, Salt Lake City in 2002 and Nagano in 1998.
It's an hour-long program heavy on symbolism that will also include speeches by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and the head of Vancouver's organizing committee.
Ceremony heavy on Greek mythology
Wednesday's rehearsal featured 21 actresses playing the role of ancient Greek priestesses who pray to the god Apollo to light the flame that will spread the message of the Games to the world.
The ceremony's choreographer, Artemis Ignatiou, said the performance was based around a piece of art she saw in the Olympic museum, but that she also wanted to send a message.
"We have to make Olympic Games, not war," she said, the makeup from the rehearsal beginning to melt under a scorching midday Greek sun.
The first torchbearer, his face glowing with pride and sweat, wore the full 2010 Olympic uniform of red mittens, tracksuit and toque even as the temperature neared 30 degrees.
"It is a big honour for me to be here," said Vassilis Dimitriadis, a Greek skier who has competed at three past Olympics and will compete in Vancouver.
It took an old fire to create a new way to celebrate the flame for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The flame for the Vancouver Games will be lit, as always, in the ancient temples of Olympia, the birthplace of what would eventually become the modern Games.
But a fire two years ago that ravaged a grove of trees that used to host the celebration around the lighting of the Winter Olympic flame has seen the cultural part of the ceremony moved to the ancient stadium grounds, usually reserved for Summer Olympic events.
Vancouver organizers were thrilled the move could add another first to their torch relay.
"I can't wait to see the Greek nation get behind this relay and for a week later to go to Canada to see the same power and energy," said Jim Richards, director of torch relays for the organizing committee.
Lucky tourists who happened upon the rehearsal applauded when it was finished, some using cellphones to send snapped photos to family and friends.
One family said they were supposed to have been in Olympia on Tuesday but took a wrong turn, only to arrive Wednesday to witness the experience of a lifetime.
That's part of the goal of the relay, said Terry Wright, a vice-president with the Vancouver organizing committee.
"The flame itself is such a powerful symbol and people relate to it and they get excited about it and they know that just around the corner, they'll see Canada's best on the ice and the field of play," he said.