RENO, Nev. — Blustery winds could not snuff the Olympic torch or the enthusiasm of thousands of people who lined northern Nevada streets on Monday to cheer the flame as it makes its way to the Winter Games in Utah.
A day after celebrants welcomed the Olympic flame back to the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley USA, torch bearers braved winds gusting up to 40 mph along the eastern front of the Sierra range on a one-day visit to northern Nevada.
Jessica Young made it to the downtown Reno arch about a half-hour behind schedule as thousands of onlookers cheered at a midday rally and sent the torch on a last leg through nearby Sparks before continuing on to Oregon.
In Genoa, one of Nevada’s earliest settlements, several hundred people turned out in the early-morning chill to watch the relay as it began the day against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.
From there, the relay progressed north up U.S 395 to Carson City.
Daryl Nourse, 18, was among those who carried the flame through Nevada’s capital city.
A Carson City native, Nourse, who is a freshman at Montana State University in Bozeman, flew home on Saturday to participate in Monday’s torch relay.
He planned to fly back to Montana later in the day.
“I hadn’t really thought about carrying the torch until I was chosen,” he told the Nevada Appeal. “It makes you think about being in the Olympics.”
World champion freestyle skier Glen Plake sported a foot-high, red, white and blue mohawk hairdo as he helped shuttle the torch through Carson City.
From Carson, the torch was driven to the south end of Reno, where another group of carriers dressed in official torchbearer sweat suits took up the cause.
One group of spectators had crafted a makeshift arch out of red, white and blue balloons for the torch relay to pass under as it entered Reno’s southern limits.
But whipping winds gusting to 25-40 mph tore the delicate architecture before the relay arrived.
Still, the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the runners or onlookers.
Mills Lane, the former star of the “Judge Mills Lane” show who nearly boxed his way into the 1960 Summer Olympics, was among those who helped pass the torch through Reno.
“It was a kick in the tail. I enjoyed it,” said Lane, an ex-county prosecutor and district court judge, boxing referee and promoter.
“I was one fight away from the Olympics in 1960. I got beat in the finals. Now to be involved in this way — this is just a great country.
“This is what it’s all about. Race, creed, color, gender, makes no matter. We’re all Americans.”
In downtown Reno, many people waved flags and cheered as Young carried the torch along the last leg of the run down Virginia Street and lit the Olympic cauldron under the famed arch proclaiming Reno as the “The Biggest Little City in the World.”
The University of Nevada, Reno student who donated a kidney to her sister in April described her Olympic experience as uplifting and “a rush.”
Young said participating in the torch run and Olympics as a whole have instilled “pride and spirit in our country, especially when we need it.”
After a brief ceremony in downtown Reno, the torch headed toward Sparks.
From there, it will be taken by train to Klamath Falls, Ore., where it will continue its journey through Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado before arriving in Salt Lake City on Feb. 8 in time for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Olympic Games.