After 9/11, Utah’s 2002 Olympics brought the world together
Salt Lake City, UT (September 7, 2021) — Four-time Team USA speedskater Catherine Raney Norman raced on the Utah Olympic Oval ice during the 2002 Winter Games wearing a copper bracelet engraved with the name of one of the hundreds of New York City firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
Tucked under her spandex skin suit, no one could see the name on the bracelet: FDNY Capt. Timothy Stackpole, who’d come close to death several years earlier after being badly burned battling a deadly blaze in Brooklyn. He’d earned the nickname “Jobs” during more than two decades of service.
On Sept. 11, 2001, his second day on the job as a captain, Stackpole assembled a company of firefighters who rushed into the south tower of the World Trade Center, the second to be struck by a hijacked passenger jet. Stackpole and the rest of the rescuers died instantly when the towers collapsed, authorities said at his funeral.
Raney Norman, chairwoman of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that’s bidding to bring the Olympics back to the state, said recognizing the toll of the attacks, which took some 3,000 lives in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a rural field in Pennsylvania, changed the role of U.S. athletes in 2002.
“I think it gave the entire team that extra motivation of we’re competing for more than just ourselves this time,” Raney Norman said. For her, the bracelet provided to Team USA members in 2002 by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, remains a reminder of the Games’ power to bring people together.
Like an Olympic speedskater who grew up in Wisconsin and a heroic Brooklyn-born firefighter, whose legacy lives on through a foundation established to fulfill his belief that it is “our God-given mission that in times of trouble, grief, sorrow, trial and disaster, each of us has an obligation to reach out to help others, in any way we can.”
“I’ve never met his family, but you just feel that connection,” Raney Norman said, although she’s thought about reaching out to Stackpole’s wife and five children many times over the years and even considered stopping by FDNY Ladder Company 103 in Brooklyn, to see where he served.
“It’s something I’ve always thought about doing and I haven’t done yet. Maybe this is a good impetus to do it,” she said. “I still have that bracelet. I have tried to learn about him. I wore that bracelet when I raced during those Games to try to honor him. So, it was really impactful. It really was.”