A former Olympic gold medalist is set to bring his expertise and vision to the Snyderville Basin Recreation District this summer, and he sees great things in store for Park City's recreational future.
Jim Shea, Jr., a native of West Hartford, Connecticut, is set to be appointed to a Board Member position on Basin Recreation's Administrative Control Board. Shea may be most well-known for being the U.S. Olympic skeleton gold medalist during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, but he also has experience in development related to the Olympics.
Shea's grandfather, Jack Shea, was a double-gold medalist in speed skating in the 1932 Olympics and served on the Organizing Committee for the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Shea traveled to many Olympic venues when he was young and says he learned much about recreation management during these travels.
"I got to see a lot of firsthand things I thought it was very interesting how everything worked," Shea said.
Shea went on to study recreation management in Lake Placid, New York, and later as a skeleton athlete had numerous accomplishments such as eight push track records, three Skeleton World Championship medals and every major skeleton honor. Shea moved to Park City in 1996, and has been very impressed with the quality of life here.
"[Park City] is truly the best place in the world to raise your kids," Shea said. "People come here for this recreational lifestyle, and we need to preserve that.
During the 2002 Olympics, Shea said he watched Park City and Kimball Junction "explode," and noted that the community did an excellent job in bringing new people to town, benefiting local businesses in the process. He said he has been particularly awed with what the Snyderville Basin Recreation District has done in the community.
"In the U.S., [Basin Recreation] is the best-run organization, as far as sports is considered, without major funding in the country," Shea said. "I think that the future for Basin Recreation is expansion and continuing to get people involved in outdoor and indoor activities and a healthy lifestyle."
Shea pointed out Basin Recreation's ability to bring in more money than they invest, saying that the money the district spends on bonds compared to the amount of money coming in amounts to the district "tripling their money."
Residing near Trailside, Shea says he sees every day how this money is benefiting the community through trails, soccer camps, tennis courts, lacrosse leagues and other recreational investments. Shea, who has three children, the newest a son born just three weeks ago, says maintaining Park City's recreational investments is key for the future.
"I want my kids to be able to use this stuff," Shea said.
He sees the possibility of another Olympic Games coming to the Park City area in "the next 15 years" and points to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's work on the Olympic Exploratory Committee as an encouraging prospect.
"Things are looking positive for another Olympics," Shea said. "I think that Park City is going to experience more growth. I want to be a part of that to keep this ball rolling."
As far as his future work with Basin Recreation, Shea says he is willing to offer his experience but initially he thinks he will have to understand more about what the district does and "learn the system." Overall, he is excited for the role that recreation will play in Park City's future expansion.
"If you come here during the winter for skiing, you come back," Shea said. "If you come here during the summer, you move here."