How the torchbearers were nominated

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2002

When the Olympic Torch Relay comes to Juneau on Jan. 24, the 45-50 Alaskans who will carry the torch each will have gone through a multi-level national nominating process before their selection.

Olympic torchbearers were nominated by friends, family members, co-workers and other community members, who visited Web sites provided by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the Olympic Torch Relay's two main sponsors, Chevrolet and Coca-Cola.

The friends, family and neighbors wrote a 50- to 100-word essay explaining how their nominees embody the Olympic spirit and how they provide inspiration to others.

Once submitted, the essays were distributed to 96 local task forces, including the one in Juneau. These local task forces reviewed the nominations and passed them back to the SLOC, Chevy and Coke, which made the final selections. The local task forces verified each of the nominations and eliminated any that had fraudulent claims.

The local task forces screened the nominations using four main criteria. The potential torchbearers were to:

• Inspire others to greater achievement;

• Inspire their communities;

• Embody the inspirational spirit of the Olympic movement; and

• Motivate others by encountering and overcoming adversity.

In all, more than 210,000 nominations were received by the SLOC, Chevy and Coke. There were 11,500 torchbearers selected around the country. The Olympic Torch Relay route in Juneau is 10 miles long, which means 50 torchbearers will each carry the torch 0.2 miles.

More than 200 spots were held open for current and former U.S. Olympic Team members, and both winter and summer Olympic athletes will carry the flame.

Most of the torchbearers found out they would be carrying the torch in early October, when about 7,200 names were released. But other torchbearers didn't find out they'd carry the torch until about three weeks before the torch came near their hometowns.

The three main selection committees (SLOC, Chevy and Coke) tried to have as many of the torchbearers carry the flame in their own communities, but many live in places where the Olympic Torch Relay isn't making a visit. The torchbearers had to cover their own travel expenses to get to the city where they'll be carrying the torch.

Each torchbearer was supplied with a torchbearer uniform consisting of a white windbreaker jacket, a long-sleeve T-shirt, wind pants, a fleece hat and gloves. Torchbearers are allowed to purchase the torches they'll carry for $335 each.

As of Tuesday morning, the names of only 35 of the 45-50 torchbearers slated for the Olympic Torch Relay's visit to Juneau had been released. The remaining torchbearers may not be known until it's their turn to carry the flame, local task force members said.

Information for this article was supplied by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

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