Just in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, a new exhibition highlights Alaska’s Olympic legacy.
Alaska sent its first athlete to the Olympic Games in 1956 in Cortina, Italy, and has been steadily represented in the Olympics ever since. But it took nearly 30 years for an Alaskan to claim an Olympic medal.
At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Kris Thorsness of Anchorage was the first to prove Alaskans belong on the world’s biggest sporting stage. Thorsness helped the United States’ women’s rowing team capture the gold.
Through photographs, video and objects such as the 1984 Olympic torch, this history exhibition tells the behind-the-scenes stories of Alaska’s Olympic medalists including: downhill skiers Hilary Lindh and Tommy Moe; snowboarder Rosey Fletcher; hockey players Kerry Weiland and Pam Dreyer; sport shooters Matt Emmons and Corey Cogdell; and basketball player Carlos Boozer.
Visitors can get a close-up look at Team USA’s London uniforms and take photos standing on an Olympic award podium. The exhibition also explains the costs and decisions behind an Olympic bid, including legislative initiatives such as Title IX, which addressed gender inequalities in many areas including athletics, and the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which ensured amateurism is no longer a requirement for competing in most international sports.