PCMR lift upgrade receives gold-medal endorsement from key figure in Winter Olympic efforts | ParkRecord.com

PCMR lift upgrade receives gold-medal endorsement from key figure in Winter Olympic efforts

Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation leader says realignment of Eagle will ‘improve the capabilities’ for Games venue

Park City Mountain Resort intends to remove the Eagle lift, shown, prior to the upcoming ski season and build the high-speed, six-person Eagle Express lift. A prominent figure in the efforts to host a second Winter Olympics in the state has indicated the planned upgrade would improve PCMR’s capability to design a competition venue for a future Games.
David Jackson/Park Record

Park City Mountain Resort recently won an approval from City Hall to build what will be known as the Eagle Express lift and upgrade the Silverlode Express lift, improvements that are designed to reduce wait times and crowding on the slopes.

The Eagle Express lift also received a gold-medal endorsement from a key figure in the efforts by Salt Lake City and the wider region to host a second Winter Olympics.

In the weeks before Park City’s planning director, Gretchen Milliken, approved the permit for the lift improvements, the president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation submitted a one-page correspondence in support of the upgrades.

In the April 11 correspondence, written on foundation letterhead, Colin Hilton indicated the realignment of the Eagle lift “would improve the capabilities of Park City Mountain to host a venue for a future Olympic Winter Games.” He also described what he sees as the value of the upgrades to PCMR regardless of the possibility of a Games, pointing to “improved guest circulation and reduced chairlift times.”

PCMR is identified as a key competition venue on the concept map of a future Games. It is not clear, though, what events it would be tapped to host. A map released in 2018 showed the possibility of snowboarding and freestyle skiing competitions at PCMR, a change from the ski racing and snowboarding lineup at the resort during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The concept map, crafted by an Olympic exploratory committee, could be altered as organizers finalize the competition slate should a Games be awarded.

Hilton is a member of the board of directors of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, which is the group mounting the bid, and was one of the principal staffers in the committee that staged the Winter Olympics in 2002. He is seen as having broad influence on Games-related matters in the Park City area as well as on a regional basis.

In a prepared response to a Park Record inquiry about the upgrades at PCMR in the context of the Games efforts, Hilton said there have been athletic disciplines added to the Olympic program since 2002. The design of a competition venue at PCMR in a future Games, he said, would be aided by the lift alterations approved by the planning director.

“A realigned Eagle lift allows more room to place events such as the halfpipe and slopestyle courses in an already tightly packed finish area. A future Games has a need for added sport event disciplines and realigned courses, for which is made easier by the modified location of the Eagle lift,” Hilton said. “Slopestyle & Big Air events didn’t exist in 2002, and options to use PCMR in the future will require the venue to accommodate many of these new disciplines. The chairlift realignment begins a process that opens up better capabilities to layout these courses.”

He said a midstation included in the redesigned Eagle lift “will also allow for quicker turnaround times for athletes and officials.”

The plan recently approved calls for a high-speed, six-person Eagle Express lift with a slightly different route from the existing Eagle and Eaglet lifts that will be removed. The Eagle lift rises from a spot just off the PCMR lower parking lots while the Eaglet lift carried skiers and snowboarders a short distance uphill from the top of the Eagle lift. The Eaglet lift has not operated on a consistent basis in recent years.

The planning director received testimony from supporters and critics of the upgrades during the meeting when the work was approved. Opponents of the plan appealed the approval.

Salt Lake City is the nation’s bid city for a future Winter Olympics, with the Games of 2030 or those of four years later seeming to be possibilities. It is not clear when the International Olympic Committee will make a selection, but the Lausanne, Switzerland-based organization is turning its attention to the task with the end of an especially busy stretch with the 2022 Winter Olympics and the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics having been staged within months of one another.

An IOC delegation made a three-day technical visit to Utah in late April that included stops at competition venues and other locations envisioned as having roles in a Games. The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games said the trip was the first official in-person visit by the IOC since the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee in late 2018 selected Salt Lake City as the nation’s bid city for a future Winter Olympics.

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