UAF Vice Chancellor will be Olympic torchbearer

FAIRBANKS-A UAF Administrator will not only representing the school up on the hill but the 49th state and the U.S. as an Olympic Torch bearer this week. UAF Vice Chancellor Pat Pitney is journeying to the North Pole on a Russian Icebreaker for her leg in the Olympic torch relay for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It's not everyday you get selected to be an Olympic torchbearer but UAF Vice Chancellor Pat Pitney will be doing that this week. Pitney is a part of UArctic which is a collaborative network of northern academic institutions. A partner of UArctic orginally nominated UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers but he nominted Pitney in his place due to his heavy schedule. She is qualified.

Pitney has been working for UAF for over 20 years. She is a Murray State grad and stand out shooter. She won an Olympic gold medal in the 10m air rifle event at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. Her husband Ron is a former UAF rifle coach and she served as a volunteer assistant coach for the program as well. We reached Pitney who was aboard the icebreaker by and she explained how important the Olympic torch relay is.

"The torch traveling through all the communities that it does on its way to the Olympic venue, what it really does is create that link between the everyday person and what's about to come about at the Olympic games," Pitney said.

The Olympian barely made the trip to the North Pole bound icebreaker. She knew about the possibility of being a torchbearer about a little over a month ago. Pitney was in Iceland for a UArctic meeting and the selection wasn't confirmed unitl last Wednesday and she didn't receive her visa until last Friday.

Pitney will be one of 14,000 bearers who will carry the torch over 35,000 miles in 123 days to the XXII Olympic Winter games in Sochi, Russia. Eight arctic nations are represented which include: Russia, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and the United States. Pitney will represent the U.S. during the North Pole leg. She will jog about 200 meters around the North Pole carrying the storied undying flame. Being a gold medalist and a torch bearer-that's quite a resume.

"I do believe that winning the Olympic gold is still on the top because that was a lot of work. But in the same token carrying the torch and representing the U.S. and this Arctic collaboration literally on the North Pole  and the experience going to the North Pole will be unforgettable. So neither memory will be forgotten." Pitney said