A small International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation is set to conduct a technical site visit in Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, which could move the ongoing dialogue phase forward as a host city for the 2030 Winter Olympics is pursued.
Over the next three days, April 27-29, IOC members will visit potential competition, ceremony and athlete village venues that are being proposed to host competition at a potential 2030 or 2034 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
The three-day visit is being hosted by the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, led by president and chief executive officer Fraser Bullock and chairperson Catherine Raney Norman, among other representatives from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
“The IOC visit is an opportunity for us to showcase both our ongoing athlete engagement with the many 2002 legacy venues as well as our preparedness now for hosting the Games,” said Bullock, who served as chief operating officer during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.
This week’s gathering will be the first official face-to-face visit between the two parties since Salt Lake City-Utah was selected as America’s choice by the USOPC as its candidature for a future Games back in December 2018.
Utah’s bid team will strive to showcase to their IOC guests how the Olympic venues and sporting facilities have continued to be used, both for international competition and recreational purposes, since the state last hosted the Games 20 years ago. A new competition site is also likely to be part of the tour.
Luke Bodensteiner is the chief of sport development for the Utah Legacy Foundation, a non-profit established to oversee, maintain and managing three of the 2002 Olympic venues – Utah Olympic Park, Soldier Hollow Nordic Center and Utah Olympic Oval.
“We’re excited for this next step with the IOC,” Bodensteiner, a two-time Olympic cross-country skier tells Around the Rings. “We’re preparing for their visit, but to be honest we’re not really preparing the venues in any special way beyond our day-to-day work and development.
“We have multiple locations here in Utah that could host events, so they’ll take a look around. It’s kind of a whirlwind, brief tour, I think mainly intended for them to get a lay of the land and understand the overall concept, how it fits together geographically,” he said.
One of Utah’s strengths are certainly its legacy venues, not only the three aforementioned, but also its snowy ski resorts Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, in addition to the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium, the opening ceremony venue, where the 2002 Olympic cauldron was recently re-installed during 20-year anniversary celebrations.
Utah’s abundance of its famed powder snow cannot be overstated also. This past weekend, Alta Ski Resort, in adjacent Little Cottonwood Canyon, received a spring snowfall of 20 inches. According to Bodensteiner, four to five substantial snowfalls, cold overnight temperatures and increased snowmaking capabilities at the resorts and venues made for excellent competitions this winter.
A new competition site that might see action if Utah convinces the IOC they are the right candidate is Mayflower Mountain Resort, a new ski area being developed on the site of a long-shuttered mine adjacent to Deer Valley. It would appear as a likely venue for more compact freestyle skiing events.
Still, at least publicly, no official word has been given in regards to Salt Lake City’s preferred and ideal year to host, 2030 or 2034, considering Los Angeles is hosting the Summer Games in 2028. This week’s IOC visit and continuing dialogue could prove impactful.
“This is a real concrete step in moving everything forward, but there are still plenty of conversations that have to take place in terms of timing and which games we bid for, which is the most appropriate for us to host,” Bodensteiner says.
As the behind-the-scenes lobbying for 2030 continues, it seems to have become a two-horse race between Salt Lake City and Sapporo, Japan. Particularly, as Vancouver’s chances seem to be diminishing as the 2010 Olympic host city still has not firmly committed to the bid and substantial leadership is lacking.
Bodensteiner surmises the IOC’s evaluation process will significantly ramp up over the coming nine months.
“Our hope is that we move from this continuous dialogue phase to a targeted dialogue phase after this,” says the two-time Olympian. “I think a lot will take shape over the next nine months, not that a decision will necessarily be made, but we certainly get the sense that things are ramping up, getting more serious, systematic, in terms of evaluation and discussions.
“From our perspective, this is actually a significant step,” he said.
Supporters of an Olympic return to Utah’s ski resort and ice arenas are banking on its busy venues, staunch government support and public opinion, and a willing and able volunteer staff once again ready to contribute, as significant attributes that could sway the IOC’s evaluation and decision-making.
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