And the winner is . . . Powder by a hare.
"Powder makes you think of snow, and at least that has something to do with the Olympics," said 15-year-old Jenny Hardman of Park City. "I don't know about Copper and Coal."The Salt Lake Organizing Committee formally unveiled the names of the three 2002 Winter Games mascots during ceremonies Saturday evening at the BYU-Virginia football game. The long-haired hare will forever be known as Powder, the bear as Coal and the coyote as Copper.
"I like them all, but I like Powder the best," said 9-year-old Kirsten Hardman.
That pretty much seemed to be the sentiment of all the girls questioned by the Deseret News about the new mascot names. Most of the boys liked Coal, and Copper drew mixed reviews.
The names were chosen from suggestions by 42,000 Utah schoolchildren last May. SLOC then initiated a national naming contest for the three mascots with the votes cast via mail, telephone and the Internet. SLOC is the first organizing committee to involve the public in naming Olympic mascots.
"They are kind of cool names," agreed SLOC President Mitt Romney. "They are not cutesy, but are solid and connected to Utah. They will be fun."
Romney said every aspect of the mascot naming process has come as a surprise to Games organizers. When SLOC officials came up with some suggested names early in the process, Utah school children had other ideas, giving SLOC a different menu of preferred names. When the public voted on a cast of names suggested by the kids, Games officials were surprised again.
"It's important to remember that the mascots link the Olympic Games to children," Romney said. "They are not something for teenagers or adults. The names are just there to give them personality, and (Powder, Coal and Copper) are what the children chose."
The mascots are based on American Indian culture, tradition and lore, inspired by petroglyphs of animal images found in the American West. Each mascot wears a charm around its neck that has been fashioned after an original Anasazi or Fremont-style petroglyph to remind the hare, coyote and bear of its heritage.
The corresponding stories of the mascots reflect the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius, meaning Swifter, Higher, Stronger. The hare was swifter, the coyote reached higher places, and the bear was strong and brave.
But that didn't matter much to the kids. For 6-year-old Paulina Garcia of Salt Lake, she wants a Powder stuffed animal for Christmas. Her mom, Linda, is partial to Coal.
Eleven-year-old Rachel White of Taylorsville will probably buy Copper when the stuffed animals are released in December (Mattel just signed a licensing agreement with SLOC to produce the plush toys).
"I would go out and buy Powder, but not for any other reason than the memories of the Olympics," said Jenny Hardman. Then again, Jenny's a teenager and not really part of the stuffed-toy demographics that Mattel will be targeting.
At the BYU game, reviews were mixed.
"I don't like them," said Evan Francis of Orem. "They're not very catchy. I like the mascots but not the names."
Marion Dame of Sandy said, "I didn't even know they were voting on this but the name's seemed to fit Utah."
Brian Frandsen, a student from Elk Meadows Elementary in South Jordan, who voted on the names in school, said "I'm kind of sad because I wanted Rocky to win."
The names Powder, Coal and Copper won out over the triads of Sky, Cliff and Shadow, and Arrow, Bolt and Rocky. More than 35,000 votes were cast.
The name-the-mascots competition was sponsored by AT&T, Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, which gave away prizes ranging from commemorative Olympic pins and telephone cars to round-trip airfares and soft drinks. The winners of the prizes were not disclosed.
Sports writer Jeff Call contributed to this report.