Ligety’s gold medal shows athletes are 2002’s greatest Olympic legacy
Four years later, the greatest local legacy from the 2002 Winter Olympics is not the fabulous Utah Olympic Park or the various monuments and markings to the Games.
It is and it should be the athletic prowess in Park City now — with due respect to places like Lake Placid, N.Y., and Steamboat, Colo. — the best winter-sports city in America.
On Tuesday, Ted Ligety, who grew up in Park City, took the gold medal in the Alpine combined competition, the Olympic event that decides which skier is the best in the world by making them ski the downhill course and two slalom runs.
Park City, from the Ligety household to City Hall to Ski Team headquarters, is expectedly gushing about the surprise win in Italy. Ligety’s gold, before Olympic network NBC even televised the race, became the talk of the city like few other events in recent years.
Ligety now stands with the greatest of Park City’s Olympic athletes people like aerialist Joe Pack, the silver medallist in 2002, and Chris Witty, the powerhouse speedskater who won gold in 2002 and carried the American flag into the Turin opening ceremonies.
But even as more medals will likely be awarded to Park City athletes in Turin, the community must be ensuring that young athletes in the coming years have the same opportunities and perhaps even more.
The Olympic Park in the Snyderville Basin, where the ski jumps and bobsled track are located, runs in the red and officials there have gone so far as saying they want to build a hotel to stabilize the park’s finances.
A hotel is perhaps not the best solution but it would be devastating for the community for the facility to fall into disrepair, jeopardizing advances American Olympians may make in those sports.
At Quinn’s Junction, meanwhile, Park City and the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District are readying to open a glimmering new ice arena, the first in the area.
The management at the ice rink has introduced a variety of ‘learn-to’ programs and promises that a spectrum of sports will get ice time.
Wouldn’t it be fun if, one day, another gold medallist emerges from Park City after training at the ice rink in a sport like, no joke, curling.
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