Where are Utah's Mr. and Ms. Olympians?

Earlier this year, the boosters behind the bid for the 1998 Winter Games announced they would identify a male and female from each of the state's 229 communities who best exemplified the Olympic spirit.The chosen were to travel two-by-two to Salt Lake City to meet the head of the International Olympic Committee, President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was supposed to be impressed by the extent of support for the Winter Games.

But Samaranch came and went last month without meeting any of the Utah Olympians - because none have been named. And none will be unless Salt Lake City is selected next month to host the 1998 Winter Games.

"It wasn't going anywhere so instead of having it fail, we decided to wait," said Ken Bullock, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

The problem was that the price tag for bringing the more than 500 local winners to Salt Lake City was expected to reach several thousand dollars, more money than the state's Olympic fund-raisers could spare right now.

And there wasn't much enthusiasm left for the program, either, with boosters putting so much effort into raising the more than $1 million needed to pay for the visits of Samaranch and other IOC members.

Bullock said the program is going to be more effective in generating statewide interest in the Olympics if Utahns know for sure that Salt Lake City is going to host the 1998 Winter Games.

Part of the duties of those selected will be to pitch the benefits of an Olympics in Salt Lake City to the rest of the state, especially to communities located outside the Wasatch Front.