Anchorage: Almost home of the Winter Olympics

Anchorage was almost the home of the Winter Olympics.  Twice.

Artist's rendering of proposed Olympic stadium, from the Anchorage Organizing Committee records

Our fair city was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s choice as a the host site for both the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask), both times the International Olympic Committee chose another location: Albertville, France for the 1992 games and Lillehammer, Norway for 1994.

Behind Anchorage’s bids for the Winter Games was the Anchorage Organizing Committee (AOC), an organization formed in 1984 and led by local advertising executive Rick Mystrom, whose sole purpose was to advocate for and prepare the city’s proposals to serve as

Artist's rendering of proposed ski jump facility from the Anchorage Organizing Committee Olympics records

host city for the Olympics.  Mystrom and the AOC saw incredible potential in Anchorage’s mountain location, in its reputation as a home of word-class skiers, and also in the amount of undeveloped real estate in the city that could potentially be used to construct the necessary Olympics facilities.  The AOC spent an incredible amount of time and energy preparing detailed presentations and proposals — not only to sway the U.S. and International Olympic Committees but also to convince Anchorage residents to support the dream of an Olympics in their hometown.

Though none of Anchorage’s Olympic bids ever came to fruition, Rick Mystrom held onto the records of  Anchorage Organizing Committee and recently donated the committee’s records to Archives & Special Collections.  Included in the collection are video and slide show presentations, photographs, detailed brochures and prospectuses, maps of proposed stadium and Olympic Village locations, and many other documents.  But undeniably the most visually stunning material in the collection are the large-format art renderings of proposed Olympics facilities that would be built in the city should Anchorage have won any of its bids.  Three of these renderings are displayed here: visualizations of what the proposed ski jump, stadium, and skating facilities might have looked like, had they ever been built.  These original, hand-colored drawings were produced for the AOC by the Austin Company, an international design-build firm, for a June 1985 presentation, most likely relating to the AOC’s first bid for the 1992 Winter Games.

Artist's rendering of proposed skating facility, from the Anchorage Organizing Committee Olympics records

To learn more about the Anchorage Organizing Committee Olympics records at Archives & Special Collections, see the preliminary guide to the collection online on the Archives & Special Collection website.  For all reference queries about this collection, contact us by email at archives@uaa.alaska.edu, by phone at 907-786-1849, or visit us in person to browse through the collection during our public hours.