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, by phone at 907-786-1849, or visit us in person to browse through the collection during our public hours.




The collection question

One of the regular questions we get is “what do you collect?”  That’s not always an easy question to answer! Sometimes the answer is: it depends. For a while now, though, we’ve been talking about formalizing our collection policy for A&SC. Or at least putting it into some sort of a written form that will help guide us as we try to answer that question. So that’s what follows. And if you still have the question “what do you collect?” Please feel free to use the contact us tab up top and tell us about what you have that we might want to make sure is available to researchers both now and in the future.

Why we collect?

The Archives is a part of the UAA/APU Consortium Library. The Library’s mission is to provide and maintain collections and resources that support the educational and research programs of the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University.  The library provides information services for the benefit of the university and research communities and the residents of the state of Alaska.  The Consortium Library evaluates, acquires, organizes, and preserves knowledge and information.  The Library emphasizes access to information and instruction on the knowledgeable use of information resources.

What do we collect?

A brief answer: personal, professional, and organizational papers from individuals or organizations with an Alaskan connection. We focus specifically on unique, one-of-a-kind materials that are not typically published nor are available through other resources. This can include diaries, letters, photographs, moving images, audio, scrapbooks, meeting minutes, and many other document types. We take in electronic records as well as more traditional media such as paper-based documents.

So what types of materials do we already have?

The papers of Alaskan politicians and legislators, public policy institutes, civic organizations, businesses, doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, anthropologists, military personnel, academics, dancers, artists, journalists, photographers, and sometimes just your average Alaskan family home movies. If you browse through our collections list, you’ll see that our holdings represent some of the diversity that is Alaska. Our researchers represent that diversity as well, and so we want to be sure to collect materials that serve all of our researchers’ needs.

So what don’t we take?

We have a few defined groups of records that we can’t take in. These include:

  • Government records, unless they’re given to us with the blessing of the archives for whatever branch of federal, state, or local government that might be.
  • Copied materials, where the originals are held by other archives or research institutions.
  • Records that are permanently closed to access or that have access restrictions that affect our ability to provide equal access to all of our researchers.
  • Collections with no relationship to Alaska — though in that case, we’ll be happy to put you in touch with another archives that may collect in that area, so give us a call!