‘Excellence’ awaits Ski Team | ParkRecord.com

‘Excellence’ awaits Ski Team

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

There should not be snow anywhere close to Quinn’s Junction on July 18 but skiers, snowboarders and jumpers will be rejoicing anyway.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association plans to break ground on its new headquarters and training facility that day, touted as the ‘Center of Excellence’ and foreseen as making the athletes more competitive.

"This is not just another gymnasium. This is a world-class facility. There will be few like it anywhere," says Bill Marolt, the association’s president and CEO.

For Marolt, the building represents the most ambitious construction project of his 11-year tenure at the association, known sometimes as the USSA or the Ski Team and one of the well-regarded not-for-profits based in Park City. The headquarters are now in a Kearns Boulevard building, where they have been since 1988.

Marolt, who is 63 years old and was an Olympic skier in 1964, built the association into a player on the world circuit, with Americans enjoying some of their biggest ever on-snow successes in the last decade.

Since the end of the 2006 Winter Olympics, in Turin, Italy, when Marolt’s athletes scored 10 medals, tied for the most ever for a U.S. team, the leaders considered how to make the team the world’s best. It is an unrealized goal and Marolt says the building, set to open in March 2009, will be key as the team becomes more competitive.

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"Knowing that this building will come online will be motivational for our athletes, motivational for staff, motivational for our entire cadre of stakeholders," Marolt says.

It will have a "wow factor," he says, with spots to honor Olympic medal winners and tell the history of the sports. At 85,000 square feet and $22.5 million, the association expects it will be finished as the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, approach. The $22.5 million is part of a wider effort to raise $60 million, which started in 1999 and suffered immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Marolt acknowledges the fundraising efforts continue but there is enough cash to start construction.

The designers want to stock it with advanced equipment for the athletes and the association says there are a few similarly equipped facilities in the U.S. but they are dedicated to numerous sports, not a few core ones like the one that will be at Quinn’s Junction.

It will sit near a hospital Intermountain Healthcare is building on the northwest corner of the U.S. 40-S.R. 248 interchange, the National Ability Center and the Park City recreation complex, expanding the burgeoning eastern entryway to the city. There was little interest from regular Parkites as the hospital and the Center of Excellence received go-aheads from City Hall but people in the city generally support the USSA.

Some of the highlights of the facility will be a nutrition center, a gym, a rehabilitation center and space for weights and fitness equipment. Aerial skiers will practice on a trampoline under a 45-foot ceiling and snowboaders will have a place to perfect their jumps on skateboards before moving to the halfpipes on the slopes.

"This has been a dream, to create this sort of facility," Marolt says.