Possibility of second Salt Lake Olympics adds excitement to local athletic programs
The International Olympic Committee is still a long time from selecting its 2030 Olympic host.
When it does, the decision will set in motion a cascade of changes for its host city. Every aspect of the host area will be under scrutiny, from transportation and lodging capabilities, availability of officials and the state of its venues. But for now, the United States Olympic Committee’s selection of Salt Lake City on Friday to bid for a future Winter Olympics changes little for local athletes, according to athletic organizations — except for adding a sprinkle of excitement.
“It makes it much more tangible,” said John Kanarowski, executive director of Park City Ski and Snowboard, of USOC’s selection.
The organization coaches hundreds of young athletes in the area in a broad collection of Olympic sports, and in the process asks those athletes what their long-term goals are.
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Kanarowski said for many, the Olympics are at the top of their minds. Friday’s announcement will only add a palpability to those dreams.
“I think it’s going to be very motivating for our kids to imagine participating in front of family and friends at an Olympics,” he said. “Then, I would say, also for our coaches it’s kind of similar. I think it will inspire them to work a little harder with the athletes to achieve their dreams.”
The same principle applies for athletes who are already well on their way toward competing on the world stage. Tom Webb, a spokesman for Park City-based U.S. Ski and Snowboard, speculated that for many upcoming athletes, even a hint at a local Olympics would add a “frisson of excitement” to the already thrilling prospect of competing in the Winter Games.
“I don’t think it changes anything, but if you’re part of U.S. Ski and Snowboard at any level, I think the idea that you could be competing in the future on home soil, that must be a little tiny bit more of that inspiration,” he said. “I would never ever claim to know what it’s like to be a real athlete, but the difference between the top of the podium and the third step of the podium or below, those differences are minute. And I’m sure there must be something that’s going to serve to inspire those athletes even more — just the knowledge that they might be part of something in the future.”
Webb said either of the USOC’s choices for an American venue — the other being Denver — would have been great for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, since many of its athletes are from Colorado. But with the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships coming to Utah in February, the Salt Lake selection is well timed.
“It provides a perfect runway into those events that will kick off in February,” he said.
Few organizations have had a front-row seat to the impact of an Olympics like the Youth Sports Alliance, a Park City nonprofit founded with goal of carrying on the Olympic spirit in Park City by providing winter sports programming to area students. Emily Fisher, YSA’s executive director, said another Olympics would “revitalize and reinvigorate” the Olympic movement.
“I think we’ve seen what the past Olympics did for the community and did for the kids who grew up here,” said Fisher.
Last winter the organization charted some 50 athletes in the Pyeongchang Winter Games with ties to YSA programming.
“It would be very exciting to have the Olympics back here and to see those opportunities again,” she said. “We are still committed to get as many kids as possible involved in winter sports and healthy lifestyles. I think this will help grow some of our club programs and upgrade our venues, and I think those will benefit everybody in the community.”
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.