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Deseret News readers remember the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics 15 years later

SHARE Deseret News readers remember the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics 15 years later

Wednesday marks the 15-year anniversary of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Mitt Romney repeatedly gave credit for the success of the Games to the unity of the people of Utah and the sacrifices made by all involved.

"There's power in unity," Romney said in 2012 on the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Olympics. "We came together as a group of people not caring about who got credit, but caring about putting on the best Games in the history of sport and you did that."

It is for this reason that we asked Deseret News readers to share their memories of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Here are some of the moments you remembered and the memories you cherish.

The following have been edited for content:

"I was 14 years old when the Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City. To this day I remember the buzz and excitement that filled the entire city—it was contagious. What I remember best, however, was attending the closing ceremonies at Rice Eccles Stadium. Here’s that story.

"My mom was the florist at the Grand and Little America Hotels. She was taking the first Trax train into the office everyday and leaving on the last—working extended hours to keep up with all of her work.

"During the Olympics, she made floral arrangements for several different companies party’s that took place at the hotels. To her surprise, employees from those companies were leaving town early and presented her with a total of six tickets to the closing ceremonies. These weren’t your average tickets either—my ticket was on row 13 and cost about $800.

"This was an incredible experience. But, for me the most memorable part of the ceremonies was the act of kindness from my mother. During this time she was a single mother of seven children, six of whom lived at home and she worked tirelessly to provide a comfortable life for all of us.

"My mom was definitely the most deserving of all of us to attend the event. But of course, she, in her loving, insistent, motherly way, stayed home and watched the event on TV, sending her six available children in her stead.

"I recently asked my mom about this and why she didn’t use one of the tickets for herself. She said, “I wanted you kids to have that experience and one day be able to tell your children about it.” 15 years later, I still vividly remember the remarkable experience of attending the ceremonies in my own city, and I honor my mother’s wish by sharing this memory with my children." -Bobby Macey


Courtesy of Steve Greenwood

"Laura is too modest to give this account, so I will describe our most exciting memory of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics in 2002.

"Laura Garff Lewis was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which was asked to sing at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Less than two weeks before the Closing Ceremonies, Andrea Bocelli, who was scheduled to sing the Olympic Hymn at the Closing Ceremony, notified the Olympic Music Committee that he could not come. The music people were stunned. How could they find a replacement for Bocelli at the last minute? They consulted with Craig Jessup, the choir director, who suggested they ask Laura Lewis to sing. Now they all knew that the choir was composed of unpaid volunteers and they were not impressed with Craig's suggestion. A choir member to replace Andrea Bocelli? But Craig persisted. Call Laura in and have her sing for you, he suggested.

"So, less than a week before the closing ceremonies, Laura was summoned to audition for the Olympic Hymn, a very difficult piece to sing. The Music Director, Mark Watters, and the Executive Producer, Don Mischer, were astonished. 'Do all of your choir members sing like this?' They asked Craig. She was hired on the spot to sing four days later.

"It was an exciting time. Laura discovered she would have her own backstage 'trailer,' stocked with drinks and food right next to the one for Willie Nelson, who was scheduled to sing just before her rendition of the Olympic Hymn. It was too late to hire a 'personal shopper,' which was the usual procedure so off she went to find a suitable coat (it would be a very cold night) to wear for the performance. It turned out to be a stunning red one.

"I remember telling her before the performance 'not to blog it' since there would be over 2.5 billion people watching. I was always one to offer good advice. It was a glorious night and she sang beautifully. ...We will always remember that night and the 2002 Olympics. Each year on the anniversary of the event, I offer to rent a U-Haul trailer for our driveway, put in a comfortable chair and stock it with drinks and food, just for old-time's sake." -Bob Lewis, Laura Garff Lewis' spouse


Deseret News

"As one of 18 German-speaking volunteer assistants to the German National Olympic Committee (NOC), my Olympic experience was even more eventful than I had hoped and it continues for several of my fellow NOC assistants and me as we reunite every mid-December for a traditional German Christmas feast at the home of our group's matriarch, Trudi Levin of Cedar Hills. One year she asked us to wear our volunteer uniforms and then surprised us after dinner with a Skype visit from our German NOC supervisor, Georg Kemper of Frankfurt, who also wore his 2002 uniform from the previous decade. Our continued friendship with him and with each other symbolizes the legacy of the 2002 Olympic Games.

"I also have great memories with Wolfgang Kindinger, the NOC official who oversaw bobsleigh and luge sports. As his chauffeur, I witnessed German athletes triumph at every bobsleigh, luge, speed skating, and cross country skiing competition we attended, usually from the vantage point of the starting gate or finish line. Equally fun was celebrating their medals afterward at the "German House" in Park City (Racquet Club) or the Alumni House at the U.

"I helped coordinate the Parade of Athletes at the Opening Ceremony, gave Frankfurt Mayor Petra Roth a tour of the Olympic Village, and met German President Johannes Rau when he came to our trailer at the village because he wanted to meet the volunteers who made it possible for Germany's NOC staff to conduct all their business in German. They were not able to do that in Nagano, Atlanta, or any other recent Olympic city, which is why they often expressed the wish that Salt Lake City would host the Winter Games every time it is North America's turn. They also had high praise for our excellent venues and their close proximity to the airport via wide roads.

"In a March 1, 2002 article titled "Stellar Hours of Olympic Winter Sports," Professor Walther Troeger, President of the German National Olympic Committee, wrote: "Reflecting on more than 40 years of involvement with the Olympics and responsibility for 20 Olympic teams, I can easily place the 19th Winter Olympic Games at the top of all these experiences...I have never experienced a better organized framework for the Olympics anywhere.

"If Salt Lake City is again selected to host the Winter Olympics, the German NOC will be cheering. So will I." -Scott Mecham


Courtesy of Georg Kemper

"The Salt Lake Organizing Committee recruited our daughters Sara Kimball to manage the Press Conference Rooms and the Green Room in the Main Media Center at the Salt Palace during the Olympics.

"It was our delight for Sara, who lives in Mancos, Colorado, to stay with us during that time period. Each evening after the conclusion of her duties we would pick her up and upon arriving home would hear her report of the interesting people she had met and the incidents of the day.

"Though we enjoyed Olympic venues, sharing of them with Sara was clearly the highlight." -Charlene and Allen Kimball

"I was a resident of Salt Lake at the time since returning to California but my best memory is how well it went off. I remember the initial corruption and mess but also how well Mitt Romney pulled it all together to organize one of the best stateside Olympics ever." -Frederick Wilbur

"During the Olympics I was a volunteer assigned to work in the VIP Lounge at the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the ice skating events at the 'Delta Center.' Although most of the dignitaries and even the President of the United States passed through our area, my memory is centered around the humble service of two giants in our community. Larry and Gail Miller were also volunteers and assigned to our group. Our leader was a young man who's age would have been comparable to Larry and Gail's children. I learned a lot about the character and humility of Larry and Gail Miller during this time. Although they were the owners of the Delta Center you would have never known it. They conducted themselves as true servants. Early during the Olympics our young leader said to Larry, 'Mr Miller would it be okay with you if we were to use a certain room for a gathering place?' Larry immediately responded, 'During the Olympics Gail and I are volunteers just like the rest of the team and as far as I'm concerned you are the owner of the Delta Center. You tell us what to do.' I know that this isn't about a record breaking performance but it certainly was a memorable moment for me and a lesson I haven't forgotten." -Brad Sheppard


Courtesy of Steve Greenwood

"What an absolutely amazing experience the 2002 Olympics was! For years, in a very unathletic family, I was drawn to the TV to watch the events. ...As a single mother of five children, I was finishing my degree at BYU in 2001 and had tried to volunteer, but the online registration was for paid staff! I jumped at the chance and was hired immediately as an Events Specialist. My assignment was the Ogden Ice Sheet. ...3 weeks of exhausting hours, 15 hours a day and I loved it!

"We escorted dignitaries, screened and hand searched the bags that the press brought in (including one French photographer who delighted in wrapping some of his camera equipment in his spare underwear so that we would have to paw through his camera bag in disgust in disgust) and became close with some of the Secret Service.

"Two memories stand out. My first day on the job was a low-key assignment at the Ice Sheet, the day before the Opening Ceremonies. I was on dispatch and as expected, we were all on high alert. We kept getting a 911 call from somewhere on the facility grounds. The authorities swarmed through, and tensions were high. Nothing was found. Within the hour, it came again...nothing. A third time and the location of the origination of the call was pinpointed. No one was there.

"It finally dawned on me that the athletes from many countries were inside the Ice Sheet practicing and that the "Dial 9" for an outside call and country code "1 1" was being attempted as they tried to make a long distance call. I passed on my suspicions and sure enough the "culprits" were found; no trouble for them and the excess phones were unplugged.

"My greatest was the night before the Closing Ceremonies. Six members of the Secret Service came to my house and I cooked them a Dutch Oven Dinner. ...My boys were given Secret Service pins as a thank you. We still have them. What a wonderful opportunity to relax and celebrate something that brought us together: the blessing of being Americans." -Nola Spicer

"I served as a volunteer in the little noticed dental clinic. We had 14 volunteer dentists and several dental assistants and hygenists. We had a nice clinic in the lower floor of the University of Utah Guest House which was adjacent to the Olympic Village. We were quite busy with dental care for the Olympians and the staffs from each team. ...Dr. Lynn Powell was the head guy for our group and I was the only endodontist. I specialize in root canal treatment and...was very busy treating chronic dental infections and emergencies.

"My most memorable experience was in the Paralympic Games. I was treating a young Russian lad, age 18, who participated in the sit-ski cross-country events. Through an interpreter I learned his story. He was born in the remote back country of the Ural Mountains. The incapable midwife failed with the delivery, gave up on his life and place him in a box outside in the winter to die. A woman passing by heard his cries and took him to her home and lovingly raised him. He was paralyzed from the waist down but was a bright and strong young man. He learned to sit-ski and qualified for the 2002 Paralympic Games.

"For several days prior to the Games, he had suffered with an awful toothache. He had hardly slept the two nights prior to his event, which was scheduled for the first day of the Paralympic Games. We had our clinic open the day before the event so I saw him as an emergency patient. His tooth was a lower left second molar, which though difficult was rather routine for an endodontist. We treated him and effectively stopped his pain. He slept well that night and the next day took the gold medal in the 15k sit-ski cross-country event.

"At the Closing Ceremonies, I was able to be in the front row along the entry way into the arena which is now the Vivint Smart Home Arena parking lot. He was coming in and saw me. His face lit up and he came over and gave me a big hug. That was my best reward for the whole Olympic volunteer experience. Those three weeks were a wonderful experience for me." -Wally Brown


Courtesy of K. Carpenter

"We lived in Kaysville at the time and I remember the excitement and anticipation of the Winter Olympics coming to Utah. We didn't go to any of the events but did go downtown and walked around, taking in the sights and sounds of the Olympics. The highlight was running in the Canadian women's hockey team on the streets and getting to touch and see the gold medal they had just won." -Peter Kendrick, Arlington Texas

"Serving as a volunteer in Spectator Transportation during the Olympics was a great opportunity to meet visitors from Utah, the USA and the world. Buses and drivers came from many places including Florida, California, Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. The UTA drivers and supervisors were also great to work with as we helped people get to events downtown and Olympic Stadium. One of the busy supervisors was Jerry Benson, who is now CEO of UTA.

"Volunteers and spectators came from out of state too. A couple I served with were 'reverse' snowbirds from Georgia. They lived in SLC for a few months each winter to go skiing. I met people from all over the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Greece and Japan. A lady who had been to two Super Bowls said that our 'Opening Ceremonies, on a scale from 1-10, was 250.' A few times, waiting to board a bus at Sugarhouse Park, a person in a black and silver Olympic coat lined up. The coat signified she was a major donor but she was glad to ride with the other excited fans.

"My favorite group was from Castledale Elementary. They arrived at the bus area at Pioneer Park after riding 150 miles in a school bus. They were very excited to attend short track speed skating and cheer for all the athletes and twice as loud for the US team.

"Helping with transportation to the venues was a wonderful way to meet visitors and volunteers and talk for a few minutes about our Olympic experiences. I'd be glad to volunteer when the Olympics come to Utah again." -Catherine A. McAleer


Courtesy of Catherine A. McAleer

"The 2002 Winter Olympics, held here in Salt Lake City, were a wonderful experience which I will always remember. Friendships we, as the German speaking assistants, have created during that time still exist. ...It was our goal to provide assistance in a compassionate and speedy manner so that officials and athletes could assume their responsibilities and prepare for the games. We did strive to create an atmosphere as close to their home as possible.

"Among the memories are: 1. Tribes from many nations performed diligently welcoming each county individually. The Quilt Guild had made a quilt as a gift for each Country. 2. What an honor it was to stand close to President George W. Bush as he entered the stadium for the Opening Ceremony. 3. The sign bearer for Germany was Gail Halverson, a fighter pilot in WWII who flew 126 missions and dropped candy to the starving children in Berlin. The honor to become the flag bearer was given to Hilde Gerge. It was her third Olympic appearance in alpine skiing. 6. Our wonderful leader Georg Kemper who was always on time, in control and understanding, trusted me with the responsibility to transport officials and the athletes to their venues on time. What a sad time it was when he removed the German flag from our trailer which flew during the Olympics and handed it to me, as he turned off the lights. I was able to escort him to the airport for his flight back to Germany." -Trudi Levin


Courtesy of Georg Kemper

"The very talented 2002 Winter Olympic athlete that I want to share a memory about is Tristan Gale aka "the purple-haired rocket women." Tristan and I are the best of friends. We met years ago in the public school arena. I was a teacher at Butler Middle School and Tristan was one of my students. During our middle school years together, we became the very best of friends and even today, we are still great friends. At this time in her career, she was a downhill ski racer and she, even at this early age, was very fast. In several of our conversations she would say quite boldly, 'Mr. P, I just can't satisfy my need for speed.' When Tristan came over to the middle school from Brighton High School...she told me she found the speed she was seeking. It was the skeleton. As much as I could, I tried to follow her career as a skeleton athlete. When I found out she was competing in the Winter Olympics I was glued to the television in hopes of seeing her.

"When I saw her win the Gold, I just could not contain my joy for her. I immediately called the school where she was a student, Butler Middle School, and told the secretary there what had happened with one of the school's former students. I suggested the school invite her to come and share her story. The assembly was outstanding. From the start of her presentation to the end, all in attendance were spellbound. I watched the program from the back of the auditorium. When the program was over, I wanted to hang around in hopes of a one-on-one conversation. ...When Tristan left the stage, she started up one of the isles and when she saw me, she ran toward me yelling, 'Mr. P!' and jumped into my arms and gave me a big hug. It was the neatest thing ever, a moment in time that I will never forget. ...I retired from teaching in 2000 after 33 years." -Paul Peacock


Courtesy of Sharell Eames

"I was a volunteer at the curling venue in Ogden. One morning, my assignment was outside the restroom where the drug testing was done. I was pretty much alone until quite a few security personnel excitedly appeared and evacuated the entire area. A bright red metal container about two feet tall had been left by the elevator and, considering the heightened security, needed attention. It was carefully removed from the building and found to be the container for the hot chocolate being distributed by the Emergency Hot Chocolate Brigade, a female barber shop quartet. -Sharell Eames

"After the dreadful events of 9/11, plans for 2002 Olympic volunteers sometimes changed dramatically. My assignment, to be at the Salt Palace with the news media, was cancelled. As Olympic organizers scrambled for other options, I was placed along with hundreds of others in a group called Ceremonies Prep Team. We were informed that as we would not be able to work over 100 hours, we would not be official members of Team 2002 and our names would not be put on the wall honoring the Olympic volunteers. Still, we were excited to be a part of the Olympics in any way possible. Hundreds of us assembled the seat packets that each person attending the ceremonies was given.

"The day before Opening ceremonies we gathered at Rocky Mountain Raceway to be bused up to Rice Eccles Stadium. Security was very tight. Even those who lived near the stadium had to go to the raceway to get on a bus so they could be admitted to the stadium. We spent the day placing the packets. This was a well-organized process, as flashcards, etc. in the packets were designed to make a variety of patterns to be used during the ceremony.

"Some of our group, perhaps 50 of us, were selected for an additional assignment – to be Athlete Ushers. We helped by marching in carrying country signs so NBC could plan their shots. On Ceremonies night we directed people from all over the world to their seating areas. Some in our group lined the steps leading up to the torch. Anywhere there was a wall of green coats, it was our group. We had a great time!

"During the Closing Ceremonies we were directed to fill in empty seats in the USA section so that when the cameras panned the athletes, there would be no empty seats. Sitting with the USA athletes was quite an honor for us.

"Those of us who were Athlete Ushers gave about 86 hours of volunteer time. I suspect there were plenty of others who did not get their names on the Volunteer Wall at Gateway either, including the entire Tabernacle Choir. But we were excited, and we had a great experience. We were part of a once in a lifetime activity, the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics!" -Jenny Allgrunn


Courtesy of Georg Kemper

"I was so pleased to have the city I was born and raised in to be on the world stage as hosts for the Winter Olympics 2002, and I really wanted to have our town make a great impression. I was happy to volunteer to be a part of the excitement.

"I was in the group to set up the stadium for the Opening Ceremonies, with pouches on the seats. I remember several of the workshops I attended, to get instructions, assemble the pouches and to get our coats.

"There had not been a lot of snow all winter and it was a bit of a concern. The night before the opening ceremony, it snowed about 8 inches at the Ute stadium. Part of our job was to clean off the seats, while putting on the pouches. It was joyful work,and there was much enthusiasm.


Courtesy of Kathy Bell

"At the last hour, because of my son's participation, as a volunteer, I was able to attend the Opening Ceremony with him. I was overwhelmed with the grandness. Seeing President Bush, the flag from the World Trade Center 9-11 disaster, great athletes from all over the world, one of my favorite composers, John Williams, and the fabulous Josh Groban, made this one day in my life, most memorable and treasured." -Kathy M. Bell

"Looking back on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, one memory in particular comes to mind: one cold night on top of the corner building of the Triad Center.

"For my work as a free-lance photographer I was trying to get photos of the Olympic events. With the world press here, it was impossible to get credentials to actually get in to photograph the events at the Olympic venues, so I began to look for vantage points outside of the venues. I decided I wanted to be on the corner building on the Triad Center because it looked down on the Medals Plaza. I knew the manager of the Triad Center through some photo work I had done for him in the past. However, he told me that the roof to the building on the corner of 300 West and North Temple Streets where I wanted to be, was going to be closed. This was due to security restrictions that came with the 9/11 attack that had happened a few months earlier.

"Luckily, a few days later he called me and said the roof had been cleared to open up because NBC Television needed to put a camera on that building. He told me I could go up there on two nights of that week. It would be just me and the NBC cameraman. This was great news for me and I made preparations.

"One of the nights I was on the building happened to be the awards ceremony for the Men's Snowboard Half-Pipe competition. The United States had taken all three places in the event. That meant that there would be three US Flags flying during the awards ceremony. As the event neared I got in place next to the NBC cameraman to be ready to photograph the ceremony. I could see his monitor and the images he was getting of the Medals Plaza and I had basically the same view in my camera. At that point NBC was in a commercial break and I could see that on his monitor. At one point, he received some communication on his headset. When he was finished, he turned to me and said, "when we come back from commercial, they are coming to me live, worldwide."

"That term 'worldwide' echoed in my head for a few seconds. When they came back from the commercial break the awards ceremony started. The three American flags started up the poles. I was shooting still photos of it and the NBC cameraman was shooting video that was indeed going world-wide. That meant that the images I was seeing from the very spot where I was standing were going to the whole world. That made a humbling impression on me as to the immense power of the electronic media and the Olympic Games themselves.

"At that time, I hadn't gone to digital cameras yet so I had to get the transparency film processed. I got it processed in a few hours and got home around midnight. I put the photos I had taken on a light box and was going through them picking out the best ones. I had turned on the TV and, because the Olympics were on tape-delay, there was the awards ceremony at the Medals Plaza that I had photographed a few hours earlier. I was looking at exactly the same images on my film as I was seeing on NBC's broadcast of the Olympics. Again, an amazing, humbling experience.

"That period of time in February of 2002 that the Olympic Winter Games were in Salt Lake City, had an indescribable feel to it. It was almost dreamlike, with all the murals on the buildings, the torch going through the city and the Olympic cauldron at Rice Eccles Stadium. Everyone was working together for a common cause that made the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games one of the most successful, if not the most successful Olympics to that time and I was fortunate to witness it and be a small part of it." -Steve Greenwood


Courtesy of Steve Greenwood

"During the 2002 Winter Olympics I saw amazing athletes. I saw amazing volunteers. And I also watched some amazing people who got no recognition as athletes, or as volunteers; they were just demonstrating goodness—with no thought of any praise—in a very quiet and unheralded way.

"I was fortunate to have tickets for one of the women’s cross country ski events at Soldier Hollow. For the cross country events, spectators could hike around all over the course and get a better view than just staying down by the start and finish lines. So we had hiked up to the top of one of the hills. It looked like an exhausting climb for the skiers.

"We noticed some coaches were within the restraining ropes, and as their own team members came up over the hill, the coaches ran with them and cheered them on. As we stood there, I noticed two spectators—not coaches, not volunteers, just good old American spectators who had purchased an event program that listed all the names and numbers of the competitors in that race. As soon as they spotted a number on one of the women coming up the hill—and at this point in the race they were all coming separately—these men would call out each woman’s name and cheer her on personally. That was such a nice welcoming and motivating gesture. They weren’t partial to any country or team. They cheered for every woman and there were over 50 in that particular race. They stayed until every woman had passed that mark.

"That is an example of being nice just for the sake of being nice. I don’t know if anyone else even noticed, but I’ll bet that those skiers from all over the world will always remember that unexpected kindness." -Becky Badger Harding

"During the 2002 Olympics, I was assigned to drive members of the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, to and from different Olympic events. As you know, an important part of the Olympic experience is collecting and trading Olympic pins. As a driver I really didn't have much chance to trade pins, but I did collect quite a few. First of all, I bought some before the games began. Also, some of the major sponsors, such as General Motors, gave all the drivers a couple of pins, and a few more pins were given to all the volunteers from the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. I also received a few from visitors from other nations whom I would visit with while waiting to pick up IOC passengers at an event site. I received one of my most interesting pins after I picked an IOC member from the hotel and he asked me to take him up to the Athlete's Village, near Fort Douglas, at the University of Utah.

"Since I wasn't assigned to drive athletes, I told him my credentials couldn't get me there. He told me that his could, as he showed me the many different official Olympic passes he had on his lanyard around his neck. He was an elderly, rather plump, friendly gentleman who spoke near-perfect English. He explained he was from Cameroon, a small, but beautiful, West African Nation, and went on to tell me more about his homeland. He also requested that after I took him to his destination, I should wait for him there for 30 minutes or so, and if I did, he would give me one of the most beautiful Olympic pins I would ever see. I said, 'That sounded OK with me.' The butterfly-shaped pin he gave me was very large, nearly 2-1/2 inches wide and 2 inches tall. It was red, green and yellow, with the words 'Cameroon' and 'Salt Lake City 2002,' along with the Olympic rings. Since then, I have mounted all of my Olympic pins in a glass-covered display case, and that pin is in the center." -A. Eugene Coleman


Courtesy of Eugene Coleman

"I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where hockey is the No. 1 sport. For the past 60 years, I have lived in Utah.

"I was so excited when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Olympics. My son was a volunteer for the events. I knew I would be watching everything on the television.

"Then on the morning of February 20, I received a phone call from my daughter from her office. 'Mom, how would you like to go and see a hockey game at the Maverick Center?' There was a drawing at her office and she had won. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to see a hockey game at the Olympics. The match was between Belarus and Sweden – a real hockey game. Talk about a dream come true. Of all the competitions I could have selected to see, it would have been hockey.

"I was so excited as we drove over to the Maverick Center, and as we got in the security line, guess what? My son was assigned to security at that event that day. When we were going through security he said, 'Mom what are you doing here?' So we told him about his sister winning the tickets at work.

"We had great seats. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed that game. I was rooting for Belarus. Every time they scored, everyone stood and yelled 'Belarus, Belarus!' Sweden was favored to win. All the souvenirs in the lobby were for Sweden, and guess what? Belarus won! The crowd went wild. I had tears in my eyes. What a game! What a game!

"Then when we left we were told if we wanted to see the Stanley Cup, that it was on display at the Hale Theatre across the street. I couldn’t believe it. All of my life I heard about this trophy. What a day! An Olympic hockey game; my team won; and now to see the Stanley Cup – unbelievable!

"The best day of my life! I am now 83 years old. It will always be one of my precious memories." -Joyce Carter


Courtesy of Joyce Carter

"I was glad to serve in Snowbasin's VIP tent, first as Client Services Attendant and then as Language Specialist for International Client Services. Because I speak the three "alpine" languages, German, French and Italian, I met and helped many people. On February 10, 2002, I noted in my diary: 'Today I met many well known people, Samuel Schmid, Federal Councillor of Switzerland; Mitt Romney, SLOC President; Senator Bennett; Earl Holding, owner of Snowbasin; Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Eccles, Banker. I saw a well known former Olympic Skier of decades ago from Austria. I asked him, "Are you Toni Sailer?" and he answered "Ja that's who I am!" He asked where I was from and I told him I was from Switzerland originally.' On a human level, the Paralympics were the most impressive." -Romana Ruemmele

"Everything started in 1992, when I discovered what the Olympics are. I was just 7-years-old, but the idea of the Olympic peace shocked me, I had never imagined how powerful sports could be. Since then I had been a fan of the Olympic movement.

"In 1999-2000 I was an exchange student in Provo, and I remember that I saw a newspaper ad asking for volunteers for the games. I was so excited for that and wanted to help the games be a total success. I was sure that I could be a Spanish translator for athletes or people from around the world coming to town.

"The ad was announcing a meeting with the people who wanted to be a volunteer. The appointment was at the Abravanel Hall in the morning, so I skipped school to go to Salt Lake. That morning Mitt Romney talked to us about the importance of volunteers for the games, and how happy he was for bringing the games to Utah.

"Sadly for me, I couldn't continue the process of beeing a volunteer because I went back to Mexico, but that didn't stop me from dreaming about coming to the Olympics and that was a dream that came true. Luckily for me, my mother bought me some tickets for the games as my birthday present for 2002." -Kaerim Cisneros

We had applied to be hosts for a family of an Olympic athlete. Just two weeks prior to the games, we received a letter saying that there were more hosts than needed and we probably wouldnt be assigned anyone. But just four days prior to the opening of the Games, we received a call asking if we could host a couple from British Columbia, Canada, who were relatives of a young man who had just qualified to participate in the Mens Mogul event. We were excited! I e-mailed Doug and Rose Hystad in Canada and one back from them the next day expressing their appreciation and excitement for being able to come. We picked them up at a downtown location and we became immediate friends. We enjoyed simple meals in our home, a dinner downtown overlooking the lights of the city and lots of good conversation. We still exchange Christmas cards every year. They invited us to stay with them if we had been able to come to Canada when the Olympics were held there. But unfortunately, we were not able to attend.-Kathleen Gygi