Record editorial: Athletes, community will benefit from Utah Olympic Park’s expansion
For more than two decades, the Utah Olympic Park has stood on the hillside above Kimball Junction as a testament to the legacy of the 2002 Winter Games and the commitment held by Utah’s broader Olympic region to developing the winter sports stars of tomorrow.
On Tuesday, the UOP further elevated that ideal as it broke ground on the first phase of an $11 million expansion project designed to provide local up-and-coming skiers and snowboarders the training opportunities necessary to push their skills to the next level. Phase one includes an intermediate hill just west of the ski jumps, while the second phase, which officials hope will commence within the next couple of years, calls for a 30-acre ski area featuring elite-level training courses for several disciplines.
All told, the expansion will be nothing short of a revelation for the talented athletes who come through Park City Ski and Snowboard, as well as the University of Utah ski team and Rowmark Ski Academy in Salt Lake City. The new runs will allow them to simulate World Cup events — and maybe even attract them — and levels the playing field with other winter sports hotbeds like Vail, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where athletes have been able to utilize dedicated training hills.
And paired with a 146-bed athlete housing project at UOP scheduled to be completed this fall, the mountain expansion further cements Park City and the surrounding Olympic region as the prime winter sports locale in North America.
It’s telling that the three organizations that will reap the most direct benefits of the mountain expansion are putting their own funding behind the project. The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation has said Park City Ski and Snowboard and Rowmark will each contribute $3 million, while the U. ski team will chip in $1 million.
It will be a thrill for the entire community to see those investments pay off over the years as even more skiers and snowboarders develop into world-class competitors.
Take it from someone who knows firsthand what it takes to mold athletes capable of competing in the Olympics. Picabo Street, one of the most decorated female alpine skiers in history, attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking and lauded the project. “It’s hard to find words,” she said, “for what a game-changer this is, not only for the Park City community but for Team USA and its future…”
After Tuesday, it’s a future that looks brighter than ever.
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Our view: The races and measures we’ll decide next month may lack some of the excitement found in even-year elections. But residents in Park City and the Kamas Valley should not be lulled into inaction.