Park City resorts embrace development role
Ryan Summerlin February 25, 2014
While watching the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, one trend was very clear American athletes love going big in extreme sports.
Whether it was the Park City duo of Joss Christensen and Sage Kotsenburg taking gold in ski and snowboard slopestyle, PCMR rider Torah Bright (competing for Australia) taking silver in the snowboard halfpipe competition, Alex Deibold of Salt Lake City winning a bronze medal in snowboardcross, or Devin Logan, who trains in Park City, capturing a silver medal in the women’s ski slopestyle, everywhere you looked an American was dominating an extreme sport.
Then there are the old standbys like alpine and freestyle skiing that also have a strong Park City connection Park City’s Ted Ligety winning giant slalom gold and Hannah Kearney, who won two gold medals at the Deer Valley Freestyle World Cup event in January, taking bronze in Sochi.
As athletes and coaches prepare for another Olympic cycle, with the end goal being the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Park City will continue to play a pivotal role in developing American athletes.
Park City Mountain Resort will continue to focus on being on the cutting edge of all things slopestyle and halfpipe, according to communications manager Andy Miller.
"It’s kind of a mutually-beneficial relationship," he said. "We keep coming up with setups that help up [the athletes’] game and their ability, and they keep coming to our park manager with new ideas. As they raise their level, we have to raise our level as well."
Expect that to continue over the next four years, Miller said. He added that he’s excited to see how the sports will evolve ahead of the 2018 Games and knows that PCMR will be ready for anything.
"We’ve got a tremendous terrain park manager here, Jeremy Cooper," he said. "He and his crew are known throughout the industry as providing us one of the best park and pipe setups in North America. You can go to any major snowboard or freeskiing publication or website and we’re right up there."
Down the street, Deer Valley doesn’t have any plans to break into the extreme sports in the near future, but president and general manager Bob Wheaton said he expects the resort to continue to hold an important place in the future of freestyle skiing, which includes moguls and aerials.
"Where the sport of freestyle skiing is going is awesome, absolutely awesome," he said. "If someone’s not inspired by what these athletes are doing, they should take up bowling or ping-pong or something."
And the fact that Deer Valley isn’t planning anything new on the extreme sport front is more out of deference to PCMR than anything, he added.
"We aren’t looking at putting in a halfpipe or terrain park in the next year," he said. "We feel PCMR does an absolutely awesome job on that. I think it’s important that all of us don’t try to offer everything. I’d like to think we’re doing OK with the aerials and the bumps and the skicross."
Over at Canyons, communications specialist Caitlin Martz said the resort will continue to focus on the sports that have made it so successful over the past few years.
Though Canyons wasn’t able to host a snowboardcross and skicross Grand Prix event this year due to conflicts with the Olympic schedule, she expects the event will return to Canyons as soon as next year.
In addition to having a boardercross course, Canyons also hosts slopestyle events.
"We hosted a USASA slopestyle event this year," Martz said. "And we’ve hosted a number of rail jams."
She added that Canyons prides itself on its smaller events.
"Most of these are amateur-focused and open to the public," she said. "It’s a great starting point for people looking to get into the sports."
By working together, along with the Utah Olympic Park and its Nordic jumps and bobsled, luge and skeleton track, Wheaton said there’s no reason Park City athletes can’t bring home another massive medal haul from South Korea in four years.
"I would like to think that all of us in town are on board with that collective effort," he said.
"Such a great standard has been set, going all the way back to the 2002 Games that were here," Miller added. "I’m sure it’ll just keep going."