Editorial: Park City should embrace podium another Games would provide

The Park Record editorial, Oct. 25-27, 2017

It was 17 days that changed a city forever.

The 2002 Winter Olympics were a defining time for Park City, a grand spectacle unlike anything many Parkites had ever seen. They opened the town to the world and transformed it into a true international destination — the effects of which still ripple through the area. The memories are still fresh for nearly everyone who was there.

In the years since, being able to claim that their town was an integral part of one of the most successful Winter Games ever has been a huge source of pride for Parkites.

We should welcome the opportunity to step up to the podium once again.

After years of speculation about whether Utah will one day welcome the world for an encore Olympic performance, state officials last week sidled up to the starting gate. They announced the formation of an exploratory committee, which includes a number of Parkites, that will evaluate whether Utah should pursue a bid for another Games as early as the 2026 event.

The committee is not scheduled to make a recommendation regarding a bid until early 2018, but it is an exciting first step in what would be another wild ride if Utah chooses to again light the fire within.

Count us among those readying the red carpet. In a town where the Olympic legacy still burns bright — as evidenced by Park City’s continued role as a destination for top-level winter sports competition, such as the upcoming FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup at Deer Valley Resort — the prospect of being part of the Games for a second time is remarkable.

Like last time, hosting the Games would require sacrifices. The lead-up, for instance, would be demanding. And we’re reminded each winter during the Sundance Film Festival what it’s like when the world descends on Park City. It’s not always pretty for Parkites (and Sundance’s impact pales in comparison to that of an Olympics).

But like with Sundance, one of our town’s most beloved institutions, whatever trouble the Games bring is worth it. The grandeur of the event, and the cachet that comes with hosting it, is incomparable. And its ability to inspire is unmatched — both in the extraordinary exchange of culture residents of Olympic cities get to take part in and, of course, athletically. One need only glance at the list of winter athletes Park City has produced over the last decade, fostered by programs borne from the Olympic legacy, to see how a place can change when its young people get an up-close look at what it means to try to be the best in the world.

Park City is among a small number of cities around the globe fortunate enough to have experienced it once. Even fewer have done it twice. More than 15 years later, with the Olympic spirit still lingering, the chance to be part of another Games is something Parkites should readily embrace.

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