Visitors enjoy the Alf Engen Ski Experience, an interactive virtual simulator that will take them on ski flying sessions and bobsled rides without leaving
Visitors enjoy the Alf Engen Ski Experience, an interactive virtual simulator that will take them on ski flying sessions and bobsled rides without leaving the Alf Engen Ski Museum at Utah Olympic Park. (Photo courtesy of the Alf Engen Ski Museum)
While the Winter Olympics are going on in Sochi, there is another celebration at the Alf Engen Ski Museum at Utah Olympic Park.

One of the exhibits that will celebrate the 2014 Games is called "Ted Ligety: Hometown Hero," said Connie Nelson, executive director of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation.

The reigning World Cup champion, who was raised in Park City, trained at the UOP and Nelson worked with Ligety's parents, Bill and Cyndi, on the exhibit.

"We're excited to have this because Ted's from here," Nelson said. "He was a gold medalist in Torino and is a three-time World Champion."

The exhibit not only includes two mannequins dressed in Ligety's racing suits, but also includes his FIS World Cup Giant Slalom first place Birds of Prey trophy from Colorado and his Audi FIS World Cup First Place 2013 trophy from Austria.

"He has won 17 World Cups in all," Nelson said.

In addition to the Ligety display, the museum installed an exhibit dedicated to the Women's Ski Jump Team.

"This is the first year that they are actually participating in a Winter Olympics," Nelson said. "Out of the five women, three of them are going to the Games - Sarah Hendrickson, Lindsay Van and Jessica Jerome. They worked hard to get there and they have trained here at the Utah Olympic Park since they opened in 1999."

The display includes photos of the women when they were young girls training at the UOP.

"We also have their team ski suit," Nelson said. "Because everybody had a jumping suit, their mother's made these cow suits, which was worn by the Children's Ski Jumpers, as a tradition of the Park City Nordic Ski Club.


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There is also an accompanying video that highlights the exhibit.

"They tried to get into the Olympics in Torino and Vancouver, and this short film tells about their struggles getting accepted into the Games," Nelson said. "On Tuesday, at 11:30 a.m., they will finally be able to jump."

In addition to the hometown athlete connection, the Alf Engen Museum upped its thrills with the Alf Engen Ski Experience, an interactive, virtual simulator.

"Ted Ligety: Hometown Hero" is one of the new exhibits that celebrates the 2014 Sochi Games at the Alf Engen Ski Museum at the Utah Olympic Park.
"Ted Ligety: Hometown Hero" is one of the new exhibits that celebrates the 2014 Sochi Games at the Alf Engen Ski Museum at the Utah Olympic Park. (Scott Iwasaki/Park Record)

For $5, visitors can embark on ski flying and bobsled rides, without leaving the warmth of the building.

Riders sit in a quad chair, attached to a motion base platform that moves to mirror the movement of the images on the 16 x 19 foot screen, Nelson said.

"The ski flying scenes are the product of local ski enthusiast Marshall Miller, whose helmet-mounted camera shots are synchronized with the motions of the chair," Nelson said. "He was one of the two guys who got arrested after he base jumped from the Mormon Church headquarters in Salt Lake.

"He hiked up to the top of the mountain across from Snowbird and, armed with a parachute, jumped off and filmed the experience," she said.

The exhibit's ride was inspired by Disney's "Fly Over California" ride and product and brainchild of the design and engineering teams of JDH Group of Ogden.

"Our visitors, especially those who have never skied before, will love this," Nelson said.

The other feature is a virtual bobsled run.

"These scenes, which were filmed with a GoPro camera, come from the Olympic sliding track located just behind the museum," Nelson said. "We set up the bobsled simulation film last week, so this is the real view of the track going 80 miles an hour.

"The only thing the exhibit doesn't feature is the G-forces, but there is movement and we can make it snow so it actually falls in the riders' faces," she said.

One of the tricks for the exhibit was to find films that were smooth, so visitors wouldn't get motion sick.

"We tried one of Ted Ligety's footage from his slalom runs and, boy, he scared me," Nelson said with a laugh.

The exhibit cost $200,000 and was made possible by donations by Rossignol and Jan Leonard at Skytrack.

"Also, Adobe gave us our first lead sponsorship to allow us to do this," Nelson said. "We will eventually have four experiences available for this exhibit."

Another interactive exhibit that will be installed shortly is a virtual ski jump that will mirror the 2002 Olympic K120 jump at the Utah Olympic Park.

"It is like the Wii video games, but will be custom made for us," Nelson said. 

Earlier this year, Nelson and her staff also acquired portions of the Cauldron Park Museum display at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Cauldron Park was shut down because the stadium is going through a renovation and expansion to accommodate the PAC 12 requirements.

"Many people worried about what was going to happen to the Cauldron Museum, and we told them we would keep it here," Nelson said. "They gave us a lot of the hardware and software from the exhibits. So it's a big deal to us to be able to incorporate those displays into our exhibits."

Adding to the 2014 Winter Olympics excitement, the Alf Engen Museum's 210-seat theatre will present live streams from Sochi.

"People can come to the museum, see our exhibits and watch the events," Nelson said. "This will continue the whole two weeks of the games."

The Alf Engen Ski Museum at the Utah Olympic Park is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.engenmuseum.org.