Crosby, Conrad carry Olympic torch in Halifax

Thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Halifax on Wednesday evening to see Sidney Crosby. the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and Cole Harbour native, carry the Olympic torch.

Thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Halifax on Wednesday evening to see Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and Cole Harbour native, carry the Olympic torch.

The Stanley Cup champion is one of 520 Nova Scotians carrying the torch through the province this week, but the sea of fans and flashing cameras proved he's no ordinary torchbearer.

"I guess we're spoiled here with the amount of support we get," Crosby said later at a news conference. "You look at the people out there, you see the signs of the excitement."

Clad in the official torchbearer uniform, the 22-year-old smiled and waved to the crowd gathered on and below Citadel Hill.

He was to jog two city blocks, from Sackville Street to Carmichael Street, but that jog turned into a walk as he neared Olympic snowboarder Sarah Conrad.

The two were swallowed in the crowd as they exchanged the flame, and Conrad went on to light the community cauldron in front of Halifax City Hall.

Conrad, from Dartmouth, competed in the last Olympics in Italy and is expected to compete again in Vancouver. She said she considers it a thrill to share the torch with a hockey superstar.

"I don't really follow hockey that closely, but I know he's a pretty good one to watch and just an amazing athlete," said Conrad. "I grew up just 20 minutes from his house, maybe even 15, so it's kinda cool. Maybe there's something in the water over there."

Crosby called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and said he was lucky the Penguins didn't have a game on Wednesday.

"I had a lot of fun meeting the other people who were carrying the torch," he said. "There's a number of people across Canada getting that opportunity and I just feel proud to be one of them."

Chantal Blanchard, one of the thousands who turned out Wednesday, said she came specifically to see Crosby.

"It was awesome, I love seeing him every time," she said. "I'm a big fan."

Grand Parade festivities

The festivities continued at Grand Parade, in front of City Hall. Crews spent Tuesday night setting up a snowboard ramp and after lighting the community cauldron, Conrad showed off a few jumps.

Chris Dewolfe, who will carry the Olympic torch Friday, was part of the crowd.

"I actually missed a midterm today, I'm writing it later to come to this," he said.

Clutching a torch emblazoned with Crosby's autograph, Daren White could hardly contain his excitement even after the flame had passed by.

White, who ran with the flame earlier in Elmsdale, muscled his way through security to get Crosby's attention as the hockey star waited for his leg of the relay to start.

"I said to him, 'For a fellow torchbearer, would you sign?' and he grabbed my marker and gave me a wink and signed," said an elated White, 44. "It's my gold medal."

The Olympic flame has been in Nova Scotia since Monday, when it arrived in North Sydney from Newfoundland. Torchbearers carried it through Cape Breton and northern Nova Scotia over the last two days.

There are 12,000 torchbearers taking part in the cross-country relay leading up to the Vancouver Games in February.

With files from The Canadian Press. Photo submitted by Tim Conrad