Olympic torch to be carried by more than 30 Alaska residents

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- More than 30 Alaska residents will carry the Olympic torch when it winds its way through the state on the way to the winter games in Salt Lake City.

About 11,500 people were picked nationwide to take part in the 13,500-mile Olympic Torch Relay which travels through 46 states and arrives for opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics on Feb. 8.

The relay begins Dec. 4 in Atlanta, Ga. The torch arrives in Juneau on Jan. 24.

This will be the first time the Olympic torch has come to Alaska.

''I keep thinking at that moment in time ... I will be the only one in the world with that responsibility,'' said Jack Eddy, of Petersburg, who was among those picked. ''I sure hope I don't fall down and put the torch out.''

Alaska torchbearers were picked by the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee.

Nominations of torchbearers included brief essays describing how the nominee represented the Olympic ideals and inspired their communities.

Some of the essays described individuals who have overcome enormous challenges.

Erik Drygas, of Fairbanks, is a former University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey player paralyzed in a 1996 team practice. Drygas now coaches hockey for West Valley High School.

Eddy is a teacher and running coach at Petersburg High School diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Mandy Andersen, of Unalaska, lost her leg to cancer when she was 12. Andersen, 30, will run with Wendie Marriott as one of two torchbearing teams. The other team includes Joanna Goldman and Constance Trollan, of Juneau.

''It's a great honor (to carry the torch) for what it means as far as peace. It's a symbol for all of us,'' said Trollan, who works in health care.

Also from Juneau are Ray Vidic, Niall Johnson and Sabrina Richmond.

Col. Norman Vaughan, of Anchorage, is a 96-year-old former Iditarod musher who coordinates the annual Nenana Serum Run Relay.

Other Anchorage runners include Cathy Choi, Robert Forgit, Marietta Hall, Deana Johnson, Joy Maples, Jody McCarrey, Nick Parker, Kirsten Rasmussen, Brian Ryan, Linda Sopp, Jean Vreeman, Michelle Webb and Chuck Whelan.

Fairbanks runners include Ryan Chapman, Joy McDonald and Nicholas Pulice. Other runners include Dan Coleman, of Eagle River; Jody Burcham, of Kodiak, and Carolyn Lee Crusey, of Wasilla.

Also carrying the torch is Michael Miller, a former Juneau resident who now lives in Beaverton, Ore.

Kim Kiefer, who served on a Juneau committee which made nominations, said the list of Alaska torchbearers could expand to about 45.

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