February 27, 2014 | Volume 44, Number 8

Olympic torch may come back

It's been nearly 30 years since Haines funded former resident Nadine Price's trip to Seattle, where the college runner carried the 1984 Olympic torch for the summer games held in Los Angeles.

Nadine Price\'s Olympic torch.

Price, who grew up in Haines, wants to give her torch and torchbearer uniform to the Sheldon Museum.

"Really, what am I doing with it? It's just sitting in a box at my house," said Price, who now lives in Anchorage.

Sheldon Museum director Helen Alten said the torch and uniform "would be wonderful things for (the museum) to have...we are definitely interested."

A couple days after carrying the Olympic flame through Seattle on July 6, 1984, Price returned to Haines with the torch. Residents lined Main Street, cheering her on as she reenacted her torch-bearing performance. She also ran through Klukwan, her father's hometown.

A photo in the July 12, 1984, Chilkat Valley News shows Price running with the torch, grinning.

Price was a junior at Linfield College in Oregon. An endurance runner, she competed for the school's cross-country and track teams and trained for marathons.

One day she received a letter from Olympic officials, inviting her to carry the flame. Price said she's still unsure as to who submitted her name, but suspects it was her coach.

The officials had hoped that the flame could pass through all 50 states, featuring torchbearers from each. However, time constraints reduced the schedule to 33 states. It took 82 days and about 4,000 torchbearers for the flame to make its way from New York City to Los Angeles.

Price said that other Alaskans were contacted, but she was the only one who participated, largely due to the required few thousand dollars, which prevented many of the others from participating.

Price said there was an outpouring from the community. "Haines said, 'Of course we'll sponsor you.'" Haines and Klukwan raised enough money to send Price, her mother, two brothers, and her sister to Seattle.

She said the American Legion and the Haines ANB were among organizations sponsoring her. An account also was set up at the bank.

"I couldn't have done it without the community," Price said.

Price recalled running the approximately one mile through the "really loud, packed streets" of Seattle, with people cheering and waving American flags.

The aluminum and brass torch weighs 2.5 pounds and is about two feet long. The top of the torch features the Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Faster, Higher, Stronger) and the Olympic rings.

After her run, people surrounded her and the torch. Many wanted to touch it. Others touched its flame with pieces of paper they asked her to sign.

She said people were excited she was from Alaska, which many viewed as "this foreign land with igloos."

The Seattle Times published a photo of Price signing a small American flag for a parking enforcement officer. The photo accompanies a story about her, headlined "Alaska town is proud to back woman runner." "It was my 15 minutes of fame, I guess," she said. "It was quite the honor."

Price teaches physical education and health at Wendler Middle School, where she's worked for 23 years as a teacher and a coach. She had Olympic cross-country skier Kikkan Randall as a student.

Price said that she takes the torch out of its box to look at it every once in a while. She has also used it at her school and at track championships, lets her students carry it.

City of Haines Mayor Jon Halliwill proclaimed July 7, 1984, Haines' Summer Olympic Torch Day in honor of Price.