Olympic Torch Relay reaches Alaska Thursday

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The 2002 Olympic Torch Relay reaches Alaska on Thursday when the flame touches down on board a Delta Connection charter jet at about 2 a.m.

The torch relay is a 65-day, 13,500-mile journey through 46 of the 50 states. The relay started in Atlanta on Dec. 4 and will reach Salt Lake City on Feb. 8 for opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

Roughly 11,500 people will carry the torch as it winds its way across America, and 45 to 50 of those will be Alaskans in Juneau.

Torchbearers were nominated and judged using a four-part criteria that examined the potential torchbearers' ability 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. Each torchbearer will carry the torch for two-tenths of a mile.

Among the torchbearers is former Juneau resident Mike Miller, a swim coach during his nearly 20 years in Juneau. When he was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, Miller became an advocate for cancer education and early detection. He now lives in Beaverton, Ore., so he can be closer to his doctors.

Another torchbearer will be Jack Eddy of Petersburg, a high school science teacher and cross-country running coach at Petersburg High School. Eddy continues to train with his runners, even though he suffers from Parkinsons disease.

Constance Trollan of Juneau was nominated by coworker Joanna Goldman because of her years of work in the health care industry. Goldman's nomination letter not only earned Trollan a chance to carry the flame but also earned a spot in the relay for Goldman.

Wendie Marriott nominated fellow Unalaska resident and cancer survivor Mandy Anderson and they both won spots in the relay. Some of the other torchbearers include 96-year-old former Iditarod musher Col. Norman Vaughan of Anchorage, who competed in the 1932 Olympics as a sled dog racer; former University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey player Erik Drygas, who broke his neck and was paralyzed during a University of Alaska Fairbanks practice but now coaches the West Valley High School hockey team from his wheelchair; and Nick Parker of Anchorage, who had leg and lung damage from childhood polio but recovered enough to guide 30 trips up Mount McKinley.

Juneau also will host a specialty leg. Torchbearer Ethel Lund will be paddled across Juneau Harbor in a Tlingit canoe by nine members of the Tlingit Warriors crew and two members of the Johnson Youth Center crew. The canoe crew members will all wear full regalia or Tlingit vests, and a U.S. Coast Guard boat will serve as escort.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee originally asked about using a sled dog team in Juneau, but the local relay task force persuaded the committee to use the canoe instead.

The flame will return to a safety lantern Thursday and fly to Spokane, Wash., to continue the Olympic Torch Relay that night.

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