UAF administrator wins 1984 Olympic gold
By Anessia Hubler
Sun Star Reporter
This week’s UAF Research Showcase was held in the Schaible Auditorium and featured guest speaker Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Pat Pitney. Pitney talked about her childhood, how it lead to her going to, and winning, the Olympics, and her experience in traveling to the North Pole for the Russian Olympic Torch Run.
Pitney grew up in Montana, and enjoyed going to the shooting range with her older siblings .
“At the shooting range is where I realized I wanted to compete in the Olympics with my air-rifle,” Pitney said. Pitney started training at the age of 15, and at the age of 18 she made the Olympic team. In 1984 she entered the Olympics and was favored to win her spot in Air-Rifle.
“When you go in favored, you have no choice but to win.” said Pitney. This event was extremely important to her, as not only because she was favored to win the Olympics but it would be the first national event that her parents would get to see her compete in, and as luck would have it, Pitney ended up winning.
“When you win a gold at the Olympics, it’s not like winning any other thing, everything is new, and the best part is standing up on the podium and listening to the national anthem,” Pitney said.
In 2014, the Olympics (hosted by Russia) featured an event in which Russia chose people from each arctic nation (Russia, USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland) and had they sent to the north pole on an icebreaker boat with the intentions of lighting the ceremonial torches.
“This trip was a once in a lifetime experience.” Pitney said.
The eight Arctic Torch Runners boarded a nuclear powered Icebreaker ship in Murmansk, Russia. This ship took them all the way to the North Pole and back while averaging at a speed of 15 knots.
“I thought there would be no good food or entertainment on the ship, but I was wrong. We got breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner every day. There was also a big library where the other Arctic Torch Runners would give presentations and talk about themselves,” Pitney said.
“My favorite part was when we got to 90 degrees North Pole,” Pitney said.
Once there, the group had to put the pole of the north pole in the ground, due to the last one disappearing thanks to the constant change in the ice during melting and freezing cycles. Once that was done, each of the Arctic Runners had to Run 200 meters and light the next person’s torch until they had gone all the way around.
“The Russians really wanted to show that they had a place in this world so they went all out,” Pitney said.
The Russians hosted another torch run that boasted around 14,000 people (including the Arctic Torch Runners), as well as going both underwater and into space.
While it was an honor for them to host the Olympics, this honor came with it’s own set of responsibility and rules, the biggest being to protect the torch and not let it go out.
“At one point, on a different Torch Run, they let the torch get blown out by the wind and they got a lot of slack about it from everyone,” said Pitney.
Next weeks UAF Research Showcase will be held September 30, from 5:30 to 6:30 in the Druska Schaible Auditorium .
“I really enjoy coming to these event,” said Freshman English major David Roberts.