By Jami Palmer
Hundreds of people gathered at the Peaks Ice Arena in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 27, to hear the announcement of 90 Olympic torchbearers.
They gathered from a range of cities, with diverse backgrounds, professions and lives, but shared a common achievement: they had inspired someone.
“We”re really here today to honor the torchbearers,” said Lewis Billings, mayor of Provo.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience. Very few people get the chance to hold the torch and run,” he said.
Eighty-four of the torchbearers were nominated by someone whose lives they had influenced. Six, however, nominated someone else and were selected to run as a pair with the individual they nominated.
Such an example is torchbearers Julie Touchet and David Scoles, both BYU students. Scoles nominated Touchet and will now run with her.
“I was completely surprised they were going to select individuals who had done the nominating,” said Scoles, 22, a junior majoring in electrical engineering from San Jose, Calif.
Scoles said he and Touchet will find out what time they run about three weeks before the Olympics begin. They, along with the other torchbearers, could be assigned to run their segment anywhere between Cedar City, Iron County, and Provo on February 5, 2002.
“I almost felt a little out of place hearing everyone”s story of what they have done in their life and how they have inspired people,” Scoles said.
Each of the 90 torchbearers was announced. When their names were read they stood, waved an American flag, and listened as an excerpt of why they had been chosen to be a torchbearer was read.
“We felt these outstanding people deserved to be recognized prior to their carrying of the Olympic flame,” said Tara Riddle, Torch Relay Task Force chair for Provo City.
“Each one of them has accomplished so much and is a great representative of our area,” she said.
Barbara Lockhart, former Olympian and faculty member at BYU, as well as a torchbearer, spoke on behalf of all torchbearers.
“When you raise the torch, you”re going to have goose bumps,” Lockhart said.
“This is what it feels like to be an Olympian,” she said.
Lockhart shared her experience as a member of the USA Olympic Speed Skating Team for the 1960 and 1964 Winter Olympic Games.
During one of the best races of her life at the Olympics in Ginsburg, Austria, Lockhart fell going into the last lap. She gathered herself off the ice, stood up, and finished the race. That experience was why her nominator felt she should be a torchbearer.
“I love being an Olympian, and it”s a thrill being a torchbearer,” Lockhart said.
Billings invited everyone to come to a free community celebration that will take place at 8 p.m. on Feb. 5 at the parking lot of LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“As a city we are thrilled to be able to help host the 2002 Winter Games and to be ”home” for one evening of the Olympic flame,” he said.
People gathered at the announcement captured just a glimpse of the excitement the Olympics will bring.
“I think this was the first time we could get together to feel the Olympic spirit,” said Jerry Washburn, mayor of Orem.
Other torchbearers with BYU affiliation include Clarence Robison, longtime BYU track and field coach; Christine Ollerton, founder of the BYU Children and Teens Dance Company; Ben Magleby, a student pursuing dentistry; and Heather Sandberg, executive director of public relations with BYUSA, among others.
For a complete listing of the torchbearers announced Saturday, Oct. 27, along with their personal biography and picture, go to www.provo.org.