Announcement of go-ahead for Utah Olympic bid excites Park City’s youth programs | ParkRecord.com

Announcement of go-ahead for Utah Olympic bid excites Park City’s youth programs

On Wednesday morning, the Utah Exploratory Committee voted unanimously to recommend a bid for a second Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2030, or possibly 2026. According to Park City's winter sports clubs, the announcement is a boon for local athletes.

Jesse Hunt, president of the Park City Ski and Snowboard Club, broke the club's view of the decision down into three words.

"We love it," he said. "There's always an incredible vibe with the Olympics, and the idea that they may return is obviously going to get us all charged back up to host the world in Park City, and reinvigorate what we had in 2002."

Hunt said hosting another Olympics would affect youth sports across the board, from participation levels, to exposure to elite athletes and access to improved world-class venues.

"When you talk about facilities, people, community, inspiration for kids, on so many different levels it's an awesome opportunity for us," Hunt said.

He said test events, where local venues cut their teeth in preparation for the Winter Games, would provide opportunities for local athletes to gain experience competing at the same venues that the best athletes in the sport use.

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"And there's expertise being brought into the community to run big events like that, so the opportunity for staffing — that affects programs, affects kids," Hunt said. "It's just huge to have those opportunities coming to town, and coaches being able to take advantage of that excitement and enthusiasm and hopefully upgraded facilities."

But even before a Games are actually awarded, a Salt Lake bid will certainly boost enthusiasm for winter sports.

"Anytime you talk about hosting something like that, there's always an element of inspiration," Hunt said. "And when you have it at home, it's tangible and you feel in touch with it. That's a ton of inspiration for our athletes with aspiration to compete at that level."

Emily Fisher, executive director of the Youth Sports Alliance, a nonprofit that fosters participation in winter sports and was founded in the wake of the 2002 Games, said Park City's involvement in another Olympics would provide a boost for the organization.

"Our goal is to get as many kids as possible off the couch and off the screen and out and into the mountains," Fisher said. "So we would love any bump in participation we would get."

Fisher said that, as a direct result of the 2002 Winter Games, there are 54 athletes competing in the 2018 Winter Games with connections to Park City.

"We are very excited about the prospect of hosting another Games and can't wait to collaborate with the future organizing committee," she said.