Utah Olympic Park Summer Offerings
July 2, 2008
Thanks to the Utah Olympic Park’s summer offerings, there is now another option to help fill the need for speed and thrills left empty by the finished ski season. These thrills include rides that give visitors a feeling for sports they normally only watch, whether it’s ski jumping, bobsled or luge. And those willing to test their nerves can take the plunge with such offerings as the freestyle schools or the Olympic Legacy Camp.
For folks in town for the weekend or locals simply looking for a fun activity to do with the family, the Sports Park has just the right adrenaline-packed thrills to make it a day to remember. With the park offering free access since last year in order to increase visitation, no Park City visitor has any reason to miss exploring the site of the 2002 Olympics.
Once visitors enter the park they have access to the two museums, the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the 2002 Eccles Olympic Games Museum. The Alf Engen Museum offers visitors a glimpse of how the popular sport came to be. According to the museum’s Web site (Engenmuseum.org), the state-of-the-art-interactive and virtual exhibits show the past, present, and future of winter sports in the intermountain region. Exhibits even include a virtual Olympic downhill course.
The 2002 Olympic Museum houses memorabilia from the two weeks when Utah hosted the world. Visitors can view pictures of the events, athlete uniforms and NBC video footage of the games. Guests are welcome to take self-guided tours of the park, viewing close up the ski jumps and the bobsled/skeleton/luge track. Aerial athletes train almost daily, with skill levels ranging from development team to visiting national teams.
Visitors can glimpse at the freestyle training facility, as Olympians in the making fling themselves off jumps, flipping in the air and landing in a pool.
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Next door, the Nordic jumpers practice very different high flying skills, skiing down a steep, astro-turf slope, and then propelling themselves off a jump, seeking to keep perfect form as they fly as far as possible. All this is free to the public and gives renewed appreciation for the momentous event it was built for, the 2002 Olympics.
Guided tours are also available at $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and youth. "These give guests an opportunity to learn the history, see all the sights and experience, the essence of what it was like during the actual Olympic Games," says marketing director Linda Jager.
Those who really want to be impressed should head up to the park every Saturday, beginning June 14, and take part in the Flying Aces All Star show. Professional aerialists show off their skills as they ski off of aerial jumps and fly 60 feet into the air, twisting and flipping before making a wet landing into the 750,000-gallon pool below. The show is choreographed with music and is a great way to introduce visitors to the warmer side of winter sports.
Jager recommends people give themselves several hours to spend at the park. She suggests starting at the museums, going for a tour, watching the athletes train and, from there, seeing how adventurous you feel.
If you’re not content watching from the sidelines, the Gravity Zone has the ride for you. All the rides are built to mimic winter sports, minus the freezing temperatures. Better than an amusement park, the Gravity Zone has interactive rides that let visitors experience what a particular winter sport would feel like.
The Comet is a modified four-person bobsled on wheels. Just like a real bobsled, it requires a qualified bobsled driver, whose slight adjustments keep the Comet upright and on the least bumpy course as it shoots down the bobsled track at 70 mph. Riders feel the speed, and the 4 Gs, as they would if they were to do bobsled in the winter.
If you want to be the driver, then check out the Quicksilver Alpine Ride. Built in 2005, it’s the first steel alpine coaster in North America. You can brake, or not, giving riders the ability to control their speed depending on their comfort level, as the turns of the steep track give riders the feeling of luge (no spandex required).
Want air? The sports park has something for that too. The two zip lines, Xtreme and Ultra, follow the slope of the ski jumps, giving people the feeling of propelling themselves off the jumps, but with a guaranteed safe landing. The Xtreme zip line, which is the larger and faster of the two, is the world’s steepest zip line. It reaches speeds of 50 mph as riders zoom along the K120 Nordic jump. The Ultra follows the winter freestyle hill, a slightly shorter and slower ride.
If you want to get your foot in the door and start to learn one of these extreme sports, then sign up for one of the many Sports Park clinics.
The Nordic ski jumping and freestyle clinics, which many people sign up for after watching the athletes train, will begin to teach you how it’s done and let you practice with the guidance of coaches. The skeleton and bobsled clinics have visitors test their speed at the push track, where both types of sleds have wheels attached and run down metal tracks, showing participants how national team athletes train once the ice melts.
Parents who are looking for a safe place for their kids to get the adrenaline out of their system can sign them up for one of the park’s many day camps. They vary in length from one-day clinics to week-long camps. If the kids are really hooked, then they can join one of the many summer-long programs.
The park’s most popular and extensive camp is the Olympic Legacy Camp, a dream come true for any 9-14 year old. This camp leaves nothing out, giving kids a chance to try biathlon, speed and figure skating, freestyle, luge, bobsled, skeleton, ski jumping and ice hockey. Instructed by coaches during the four-day camp, kids can discover in which Olympic sport they plan on winning the gold. INFO:
For more information about the Utah Olympic Park and its camps:
Phone: (435) 658-4200
Times and Pricing
Extended summer hours starting June 7 through Labor Day: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Admission is free
Guided tours: Run at the top of the hour from 10-4
Adult $7 Seniors/Youth $5
Flying Aces All Star Show
Runs every Saturday at 1 p.m. from June 14 to Aug. 3
Adult $10 Senior/Youth $7
Freestyle Intro Camp
Dates: June 9 – August 24
Times: Daily, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Dates: August 27 – Sept 1
Times: Wednesday – Monday, 3- 6 p.m.
Other information: For ages 6 and up; Sessions limited to 12 participants
Ability Level: Skiers recommended being intermediate or higher skiing level; Snowboarders need to be advanced or higher level rider
Learn to Fly-Ski Jumping Camp
For more information for this camp call the National Sports Foundation at (435) 645-7660 x101 or visit http://www.nsfparkcity.org. This camp is for kids ages 7-13.
Olympic Legacy Camp
Dates: July 8-11; July 15-18; July 22-25; July 29-Aug. 1; Aug. 5-8
Times: Daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Other information: For kids ages 9-14