The Utah Olympic Park’s legacy is still shining bright
The Park Record editorial, Aug. 2-4, 2017
When the concept of building an Olympic ski jumping and sliding sports facility was broached to Summit County residents in the early 1990s, they were justifiably skeptical. At the time there were few, if any, local ski jumpers or bobsledders, and there were serious concerns that the expensive facilities would be abandoned after the Olympic spotlight moved on to another part of the world.
But the organizers of Salt Lake City’s bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics believed the track and jumps would continue to serve as a renowned draw for the world’s top winter athletes and a valuable training ground for future Olympians.
They were right. Last week, more than a decade after Utah’s successful turn as an Olympic host, it was announced that the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the ski jumping and Nordic combined events at the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held at the Utah Olympic Park in December. The winners of the events will go on to represent the U.S. in PyeyongChang, South Korea.
Over the last two decades the Utah Olympic Park has become a vibrant hub of activities, from frequent World Cup competitions to unique tourist attractions like bobsled rides and aerial shows. And, as the recent Springer Tournee at the venue proved, it has fulfilled its role as an Olympic training ground for local youth. The event hosted more than 70 athletes ages 8 to 25.
It is a far cry from the sad state of affairs in Rio de Janeiro, where last summer’s Olympic facilities are already falling into disrepair. Brazil’s $12 billion investment has proven to be an economic catastrophe. News photos show a barren golf course, algae-covered pools and ransacked stadiums representing shattered dreams and deep debt.
Utah, though, thanks to a group of visionary organizers and a lot of hard work, has a shining Olympic legacy, not only at the Utah Olympic Park, but also at Soldier Hollow in Midway and the Olympic Oval in Kearns. The facilities have allowed countless residents and visitors to share in the Olympic spirit and, come December, the Utah Olympic Park will give Utahns a chance to cheer on the next generation of U. S. medal winners.