WSU visual communication student Kedrick Ridges poses alongside a vehicle used in the 2004 Olympic torch relay in Lausanne, Switzerland. In each tour city, Ridges and his partner Alan Ross were responsible for placing vinyl graphics on all the vehicles used in the torch relay.
(Photo courtesy of Kedrick Ridges)
OGDEN, Utah – Sounding like something out of a Jules Verne novel, Weber State University student Kedrick Ridges has just returned from an Olympic odyssey that took him to four continents, nine countries, and 12 cities in approximately 40 days. In lieu of a hot air balloon, he logged more than 40,000 frequent flier miles.
The visual communications student was a member of one of the four graphics advance teams working on the worldwide Olympic torch relay sponsored by Coca-Cola and Samsung, leading up to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games next month.
WSU student Kedrick Ridges (left) works with Wayne Boydstun (center) President of ProGrafix International, and Layton resident Alan Ross to assemble the cauldron for the Olympic flame in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo courtesy of Kedrick Ridges)
He and his partner arrived four days ahead of the torch in each locale. They were responsible for placing vinyl decals on all the vehicles involved in the torch relay, installing stage backdrops, and the setup and operation of the cauldron for the flame at each tour city's celebration venue. Despite a set routine, unexpected glitches kept the team thinking on their feet.
"Our decals arrived late in Mexico City, so we had to squeeze three days worth of work into six hours—covering six buses and more than a dozen vehicles" Ridges said.
He had a unique vantage point at each celebration, held in cities that have previously hosted the Summer Games or are competing to host a future Olympics.
"I spent most of the time during the actual event backstage, sandwiched between the propane tanks that fed the cauldron," Ridges said. He had to turn the tanks on as the flame approached, and once the event was over and the torch moved on, he had to turn the tanks off again. Then he and his partner dismantled and packed up the cauldron to ship it to the next city.
Ridges, originally from Kaysville, credits his extensive background working with vinyl graphics on vehicles and his rapport with ProGrafix International, Inc. in Layton, for helping him land the job. ProGrafix was responsible for all the vinyl graphics used in the relay.
Ridges' journey began on May 30, flying from Salt Lake City to Melbourne, Australia. Along the way he skipped May 31, thanks to crossing the international date line. Much to his surprise, he discovered late spring in the southern hemisphere is much like late November in Utah.
From there his journey took him to Delhi, India; Mexico City; New York City; Geneva; Lausanne, Switzerland; Munich, Germany; Rome; Helsinki, Finland; and Sofia, Bulgaria.
"One of my first flights was on a huge 747, 14 hours from Los Angeles to Melbourne," Ridges said. "At the start I thought it was so cool, but by the time I flew home, I was so tired of airplanes."
His final trek home from Bulgaria involved stops in Frankfurt, Germany, Chicago and Las Vegas before touching down in Salt Lake City at 2:30 a.m. on July 9.
Kedrick Ridges, torch relay ProGrafix advance team
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