University of Utah tech skiers could be perfecting GS turns in the morning, and Park City Ski Team racers attacking slalom gates in the afternoon, while junior skiers are coached proper technique just across the way. They’ll all be benefiting from the Utah Olympic Park Mountain Expansion.
Development plans continue to take shape in the second phase of the expansion designed to provide greater opportunities and additional slopes, increasing the quality and quantity of training options for all levels of ski racers in the Park City and Salt Lake City areas.
The ongoing project is yet another ambitious effort by the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation to further develop competitive skiing and snowboarding, predominantly geared toward youth clubs in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games resort town.
“In the second phase we’ve designed and have mostly funded an expansion on the peak behind the bobsled track, which is called the West Peak,” says Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation Chief of Sport Development Luke Bodensteiner.
“That will become a training hill for alpine and freestyle – we’ll be able to have two GS runs there and all sorts of terrain for freestyle skiing. That’s being built because of the need in Park City. With the resorts as busy as they are becoming, (it’s) more and more difficult for the local teams to find training,” he said.
According to Bodensteiner, the second phase has been proposed to the UOLF Board to break ground later this year and be fully operational for the 2022-23 winter season. The project includes a chairlift, 30 acres of snowmaking capability, a lighting system and up to 10 new training lanes offering 1,200 feet of vertical drop.
“It will be a place where there are no other constraints on it – no public skiing, it will be used minimally for events, but it is really being built so that 1,000 kids in the Park City Ski and Snowboard Club have a place to train,” Bodensteiner, a two-time Olympic cross-country skier, tells Ski Racing Media.
The GS slopes and slalom trail both have the potential to be homologated adding to the potential and possibilities.
“It is a place that we could execute really high-level events, so that is in the back of the mind also,” says Bodensteiner.
The less challenging terrain of Phase 1 – adjacent to the Utah Olympic Park aerials pool and freestyle terrain — has attracted numerous racers of all ages, having been operational since last year.
“It’s not super steep – it’s a hill that accommodates slalom and short GS training. It could be homologated for a slalom with a lift that is really devoted just to training,” he said.
Bodensteiner informs that there have been substantial fundraising efforts behind the project, including assistance from Salt Lake City’s Rowmark Academy and the University of Utah, among other regional teams and winter sports organizations. The approximate budget for the Mountain Expansion project is $8.5 million.
“It has been a collective effort of all the different clubs in the general area,” Bodensteiner says.
Bodensteiner notes there were once 13 individual winter sports clubs across the area, however after following a significant push to streamline and simplify managing finances, many were consolidated into the Park City Ski & Snowboard Team. The multi-sport club encompasses approximately 1,000 athletes, 600 families and 125 coaches participating across numerous disciplines.
The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation operates in conjunction with the Utah Sports Commission and more recently alongside the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games in the mutual quest to bring the Olympic Winter Games back to the Wasatch Mountains, 28 years after Utah welcomed the world in 2002.
Bodensteiner, the former Chief of Sport and Nordic Program Director for the U.S. Ski Team, said the hometown 2002 Winter Olympics were transformative for the organization, the town of Park City and the state of Utah.
“It really opened so much enthusiasm and not only for the Olympics, but also what we were doing as a team,” he said. “Resources became really plentiful – everybody wants to be on board … so there was a ton of support that allowed us to build the organization.
“In the early 90s, we were basically bankrupt. The Games provided a huge amount of focus within the organization and it really clarified for us what we were in business for,” he said.
USSA athletes won 10 medals (snowboard five, freestyle three, alpine two) at the Salt Lake City Games, not a huge haul considering Bill Marolt’s proclamation for the team to be “Best in the World,” but nevertheless a performance that created a sense of local pride and springboard to the future.
“That idea of this opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in our backyard is something that reverberated through the organization and has stuck with the organization for a long, long time,” he says about USSA.
Bodensteiner informs that the region and venues are still benefiting from approximately $70 million out of a roughly $100 million surplus from the 2002 Games.
“The mandate that we were given by the state of Utah when we inherited the profits of the 2002 Games, which are in an endowment, that continue to assist the funding for the three venues that we operate now, to maintain the venues at world class levels and use them for elite athlete training and bring competitions to Utah, which we still do today,” he informs.
Utah sport authorities have said they are prepared to host either 2030 or 2034. Commercial aspects related to hosting must be sorted out with Los Angeles 2028 and the USOPC before the proposal is fully considered by the International Olympic Committee.
“We are ready, willing and able – that has been our line and it is very true,” says Catherine Raney-Norman, a four-time Olympic speed skater and chair of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games. “We have a strong management team led by Fraser Bullock, so we have the knowledge, we understand the ins and outs, and we have incredible sports leaders.
“And we have the support of our community – one of the amazing things that came out of 2002 was that spirit of volunteerism,” Raney says.
Winning the right to host the 2030 Winter Games will largely play out behind closed doors, potentially involving five candidates, as the future winter host will be chosen, for the first time, through the IOC’s reformed selection process.
Ukraine is the latest candidate to expressing significant interest for 2030 or 2034, joining Salt Lake City and three other potential candidates for 2030 – Sapporo, Vancouver and Barcelona-Pyrenees.
The IOC has yet to set any definitive timeframe as to when the 2030 host city may be selected.
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