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Olympic Torch Makes Final Lap

February 8, 2002

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Hundreds of people lined the slushy streets of a local suburb Friday to watch the Olympic torch make its final lap around the Salt Lake Valley before its arrival at the opening ceremony.

With a light snowfall blanketing the area, torchbearer Chris Kiser, 41, ran her two-tenths of a mile stint through West Valley City accompanied by a mob of local students. It was one of the last few legs of the torch’s 13,500-mile, 46-state journey to Salt Lake City.

``I’m not gonna wash this glove,″ said one student after getting her hands on the torch. ``Wow! I touched the torch.″

Friday night, the torch _ carried by an as-yet-unidentifed runner _ was to ignite the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony and officially kick off the Winter Games. An estimated 3 billion television viewers were expected to watch.

In Draper, thousands of people waited for more than an hour in the cold afternoon wind. Some were disappointed when the flame drove by on the back of a flatbed truck instead of being carried by a runner.

``Is that it?″ said Natalie Griffiths, carrying two toddlers. ``We waited so long for that?″

Others were moved to see the flame. Louis Lopez, 62, said he came to the United States from Mexico when he was 13.

``To me, this is a real privilege. This is the most wonderful country in the world.″

The torch went through several Salt Lake City neighborhoods before heading to Rice-Eccles Stadium for the opening ceremony.

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