Since it first opened in 1992 as the Utah Winter Sports Park, the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) has attracted visitors, world-class athletes and, in 2002, the Olympic Games themselves. But the UOP has more in store for the future as part of an effort to broaden its focus.
"Our whole pitch on what the UOP is doing is to be a facility that not only trains high-performance athletes but, more importantly, is a community recreation center and serves a wider population," said Colin Hilton, president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation.
Featuring six Nordic ski jumps, a 1,335-meter sliding sports track, a 750,000-gallon summer freestyle and freeskiing training pool, among other facilities, the UOP is open year-round and is geared toward both athletes and residents. The UOP is also home to the Winter Sports School, a college prep school for those dedicated to training in winter sports.
Hilton said the park helps make the Park City area a destination resort community with a unique Olympic heritage, which is not something many towns can say. He envisions the future expansion of the UOP as tied in with a greater goal.
"Our goal is to take what we are as an official Olympic training site and transition that into an Olympic training center," Hilton said. "The 'site' to 'center' transition implies we're going to supply an enhanced level of services."
Those services will include sports medicine and sports science facilities, athlete housing, increased meeting space and more as part of the UOP's plan for the next 20 years.
Increasing the UOP's services ties into a statewide initiative of making Utah a national and international destination to train athletes during both the winter and summer, Hilton said.
The park has already drawn officials from Brazil and South Korea, for the 2016 Summer and 2018 Winter Olympic Games, respectively, who are looking to the UOP's vision as a model for their own facilities, Hilton said.
The proposed development at the UOP is projected by the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation to have significant economic benefits to the area as well. In a report, they list the following impacts:
This new development at the park is, Hilton said, part of a plan to find revenue-generating ideas that allows it to be self-sustaining and a more suitable operation for a future Olympic venue.
Partnerships with organizations like Basin Recreation, with whom they have helped to create expanded Nordic trails in the area, are also important, Hilton added.
"Residents and visitors view the UOP as a vibrant part of our community," he said. "We want to continue to take the Olympics and Olympic movement and inspire visitors to hear the story of how we continue to train Olympic athletes."
For more information on the UOP and the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, visit utaholympiclegacy.com.