Originally created 02/08/02

Olympic torch arrives in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Olympic torch entered Salt Lake City on Thursday the same way the Mormon pioneers did 155 years ago - aboard a covered wagon.

It took more than three decades, 13,500 miles and a bribery scandal, but the torch finally made it into town a day before the start of the Winter Olympics, rolling down Emigration Canyon with the Salt Lake valley below.

Thousands of spectators cheered as a runner jumped out of the wagon and ran toward a small stage, where a brief speech was made by an actor portraying Brigham Young.

Young led the Mormons to Salt Lake City from Illinois in 1847.

Utah civic leaders first began trying to land the Winter Games in the mid-1960s, and finally convinced the International Olympic Committee to award them the games in 1995.

That victory later was found to have been partially secured with more than $1 million in gifts, scholarships and cash to a handful of IOC members.

Earlier Thursday, runners carried the Olympic torch past skiing venues in the Wasatch Mountains as it headed to its final destination.

The torch left the northern Utah city of Ogden at dawn, on its way to the mountains and Park City area. Families lined the street in Midway, home of the cross-country skiing venue, and waved flags and cheered as the torch ran toward downtown.

Alan Truitt, 37, was the first runner to carry the torch in Midway. Truitt, who's on the board of directors of Big Brothers and Big Sisters, ran his two-tenths of a mile before passing the flame and getting swarmed by a dozen family and friends.

"It was incredibly exhilarating, a tremendous rush," Truitt said. "I had a great feeling of pride."

The flame took a slow four-mile run from Soldier Hollow to Heber in a cauldron aboard the Heber Creeper, an old coal-fired train. About 800 people gathered at the train station to greet the flame.

The torch was driven to Park City, home to slalom skiing and snowboarding events. Thousands of people - many in ski gear - crowded Main Street as the torch came to the historic silver mining town.

Kelly Milligan, a member of the 1984 U.S. cross-country ski team, ran the torch Thursday afternoon before passing it to her older sister.

"Honestly, I was really self-conscious. I didn't fall, break the torch or singe my hair," she said, laughing.

The torch was to pass through the Olympic Village, by the State Capitol and to Temple Square, home to the Mormon Temple.

Friday night, the flame is to be carried into Rice-Eccles Stadium during the opening ceremony to light the Olympic cauldron, signifying the start of the games. The final torchbearer remains a secret.

When it's over, about 11,500 people will have carried the torch through 46 states since it began its U.S. relay in Atlanta on Dec. 4.


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