clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


Most Utahns will recognize two of the torchbearers carrying the Olympic flame during its trip through Utah Thursday and Friday on its way to Atlanta.

They're Olympic gymnastsBart Connor and Nadia Comaneci, who recently became man and wife at a lavish ceremony in Comaneci's native Romania. Connor will hand the Olympic flame over to Comaneci at 7:02 p.m. near the Sandy City Building on 300 East and 8680 South.

Utah marathon runner Ed Eyestone, a former Olympian, will carry the flame from under the Eagle Gate arch on Main Street into the celebration at the Salt Lake City-County Building at 10:10 p.m.

The Olympian is among the 223 Utahns who'll carry the Olympic flame through the state on its way to Atlanta for the July 19 opening ceremonies.

The long list of torchbearers includes 96 "Community Heroes" selected by area United Way chapters for the honor because of their

volunteer efforts.

Many aren't well known outside their neighborhoods but will be cheered on during their half-mile share of the relay by family, friends and the thousands of Utahns expected to gather along the route.

Tim Christensen and his wife, Lisa Hood-Christensen, construction company owners who clean up vacant lots in Woods Cross, will be watched by their children, Cassidy, 9; Nick, 14; and Michelle, 19, as well as countless relatives.

The clan will see the couple kiss as Hood-Christensen hands off the torch to her husband about 1 p.m. on U.S. 89 just outside North Salt Lake. "We're practicing," Hood-Christensen said. "I'm going to give him a kiss and send him on his way."

Like most of the relay participants, they plan to purchase their 31/2-pound torches as keepsakes. The $275 price tag covers the cost of producing the 32-inch-high aluminum and pecan torch.

Chris Ritzakis wants to buy his, too, and display it in his Salt Lake restaurant, Nector's, where he's fed thousands of homeless men and women every Thanksgiving for the past 26 years.

Ritzakis, who'll carry the torch to the Salt Lake County Government Center, said being chosen is "like I'm competing in the Games and I won all the gold medals. It's very exciting."

Among the torchbearers who aren't designated as community heroes are former Olympians, including Robert Detweiler, 65, who won a gold medal in rowing at the 1952 Summer Games in

Helsinki, Finland.

Even carrying the Olympictorch can't compare to winning the gold medal as a member of the U.S. Naval Academy's eight-man team, in the Helsinki Games, Det-weiler said.

"I'm certainly not going to get teary-eyed over carrying the torch," the retired Air Force colonel said. He still hasn't decided whether to wear his gold medal during his portion of the relay.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee, which is preparing to host the 2002 Winter Games, will be represented in the torch relay by 11-year-old skater Cynthia Ruiz of West Valley City .

Ruiz served as the committee's secret weapon during the bid for the 2002 Winter Games, appearing before members of the International Olympic Committee in Budapest, Hungary, just before they chose a host city.

Utah's Olympic organizers still have to come up with their own plan for bringing the Olympic flame from the ancestral home of the Games in Athens, Greece, to Salt Lake City in 2002.

Atlanta's Olympic flame is scheduled to arrive in Utah from Idaho about 8 p.m. Thursday, at Ogden's Union Station via a special Olympic passenger train. It's to be carried to 25th Street and Lincoln for a celebration.

Friday morning, the torch heads to Salt Lake City from Ogden's Municipal Building at 8:30 a.m. It will circle the valley (see map on A1) before being brought to the Salt Lake City-County Building for another party about 10:15 p.m.

On Saturday, the torch is scheduled to leave from the Holiday Inn downtown at 5:50 a.m. via bicycle, and head up Emigration Canyon.




Olympic torch relay: THROUGH UTAH FRIDAY, MAY 10


Suggested locations and approximate times to view Olympic torch.


Ogden Municipal Building, 8:30 a.m.



1 West High 2:20 p.m.

2 Delta Center 2:25 p.m.

3 George Eccles

Tennis Center 2:58 p.m.

4 East High 3:30 p.m.

5 Westminster College 4:00 p.m.

6 Training Table 4:10 p.m.

7 Cottonwood Mall/

TGI Friday's 4:50 p.m.

8 Smith's 6:05 p.m.

9 Waterford School 6:10 p.m.

10 Albertsons 6:45 p.m.

11 Sandy City Hall 7:00 p.m.

12 Fashion Place 8:05 p.m.

13 BMW of Murray 8:30 p.m.

14 Salt Lake

Community College 9:20 p.m.

15 Crossroads Plaza 9:50 p.m.

16 Gallivan Utah Center 10:10 p.m.

17 City-County Building 10:15 p.m.

SOURCE: Swire Coca-Cola USA & Scopes-Garcia-Carlisle