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Olympic coin is a real treasure

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It took two years, a few discussions with the some of the Olympic athletes, reviews by many types of committees, several conferences with the United States Mint and a meeting with the Secretary of the Treasury to come up with the perfect coin for the 2002 Olympics.

Diane Jergensen, Special Projects Coordinator for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, has been working on the Olympic coin for two years. She was instrumental in developing the design as she worked directly with the U.S. Mint in creating it.

She said working on the coin is the "chance of a lifetime."

This statement rings true for one important reason: U.S. Congress passed a law stating that only two commemorative coins could be made each year.

According to a press release issued by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, this is "the first and only modern commemorative coin program to come from the U.S. Mint to commemorate a U.S. Olympic Winter Games."

The coins are "extremely limited by a coin perspective as well as an Olympic perspective," she said. "I've got the best of both worlds."

Both silver and gold coins were created. The ideas for the designs came from the athletes as well as people working at the mint. She said the athletes did not want one Olympic event to be pictured on the coin because it would not be representative of each individual athlete's experience. She added that, in designing, there is a limited amount of things that can be done to a coin. The main goal was to tie in the Olympic theme of fire and ice to the coins' designs.

The gold coin is worth five dollars and has flames on one side and the Olympic snowflake on the reverse. The silver coin, worth one dollar, also features the snowflake and the opposite side has a view of downtown Salt Lake City with the mountains in the background. The gold coins are minted in New York, while the silver are minted in Philadelphia.

Sister Jergensen said she couldn't have hoped the coins would turn out better than they did.

"We [the committee] are pleased; the mint was a dream to work with."

She said she is anticipating that the Olympics will be very important for the community and she is proud to be a part of that. A member of the Capitol Hills 1st Ward, Salt Lake Stake, she and her husband, K. Eric Jergensen, serve as stake missionaries in the Spanish-speaking Mount Ensign 3rd Branch.

She said, "The Olympics are just such a wonderful experience . . . you invite the whole world into your backyard."

E-mail: ngrubbs@desnews.com