Park City figures tapped for Winter Olympic exploratory committee | ParkRecord.com

Park City figures tapped for Winter Olympic exploratory committee

 Ex-athletes, businesspeople, 2002 organizers will study prospects for a Games

The exploratory committee seated to determine whether Utah should pursue a Winter Olympics as early as the event in 2026 includes a roster of people with ties to Park City that stretch from the halls of the Marsac Building to boardrooms and surgical suites.

At least six of the people have deep ties to the Park City area, and some of the others named to the committee have connections at some level to the community. The prominence of the Park City ties on the exploratory committee will likely be seen as beneficial to the city itself, as well as surrounding Summit County, as the talks become more detailed about the prospects of a bid for the Games.

Park City Council member Andy Beerman is the only elected official in the city or Summit County named to the exploratory committee, but the others with local ties bring a range of backgrounds to the Olympic efforts. They include:

  • Eric Heiden, an Olympic speedskating legend who is now an orthopedic surgeon in Park City. He lives in the Snyderville Basin
  • Becky Kearns, a former bank executive and now a consultant who lives in Pinebrook
  • Chris Waddell, a Paralympic champion
  • Colin Hilton, the president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. He was a high-ranking staffer of the organizing committee that put on the Winter Olympics in 2002 and worked at the Marsac Building afterward.
  • Grant Thomas, a former executive with the organizing committee in 2002 who has consulted in Park City

"You couldn't do an Olympics without Park City," said Jeff Robbins, the president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, calling the area "key to any bid."

Robbins, who was also named to the exploratory committee, noted the Park City area would host many athletic competitions during a Games, as it did in 2002, and is the home of the national ski and snowboard team.

The exploratory committee is expected to make a determination about an Olympic bid by Feb. 1.

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Other members of the exploratory committee are familiar with Park City and the Snyderville Basin through athletics, government service on the state level or through statewide business interests.

Waddell has long inspired Park City with his successes on the snow and other accomplishments like summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro. He said in an interview it is an honor to be named to the exploratory committee and it is "easy to feel a tremendous amount of pride" in organizing an Olympics.

"It's a way to bring the world to your little village," Waddell said.

Heiden noted in an interview the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee would consider the accessibility of the Games region in another bid. He pointed to the proximity of Park City and Soldier Hollow in Wasatch County, which hosted cross-country skiing events in 2002, as an advantage. He also said many Parkites experienced the successful Olympics in 2002.

"It's a community that's willing to embrace these kind of things, just from their experience," Heiden said, adding there is a love of sports in the area.