SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) -The 2018 Winter Olympics are in full swing in Pyeongchang, South Korea sixteen years after they were going on in Utah. Now the memories and the venues from 2002 remain.
The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games were a huge success, generating $160 million in profit. Instead of pocketing that money, they created the Olympic Legacy Foundation to fund three Olympic venues that are still hosting events and may be the key to getting the Games back in 2030.
Many past Olympic venues are abandoned, neglected and crumbling.
Noelle Pikus-Pace, 2014 Silver Medalist in Skeleton, hasseen it first hand.
“I’ve traveled the world with the sport of skeleton and with bobsledding and luge and there are many venues that have shut down soon after the games and it becomes a ghost town,” Pikus-Pace told News4Utah. “Here in Utah it’s still so much alive and we’re hosting World Cups, World Championships which is really a remarkable feat 16 years later.”
That bobsled/luge track along with the Olympic Park’s ski jumps plus the Soldier Hollow Nordic Ski Center and the Olympic Oval in Kearns continue to host world class events on a regular basis and the public every single day.
Fraser Bullock served as the COO of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics and is the Co-Chairman of the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee.
“Very uniquely to Utah, very different from the rest of the world where a lot of venues from an Olympics can go into disrepair. In our case they were well built, they were well funded,” Bullock said. “We left behind $76 million to keep them operating at a world class level so every venue is in great shape and being operated today and hosting world championships and other competitions. It’s a a great legacy.”
Derek Parra won Olympic Gold and Silver on the Oval’s ice in 2002 and now oversees the public sports programs there.
“You can learn to curl a few times a week. We have curling leagues,” Parra said. “We have youth hockey, adult hockey, public skate. Our numbers are climbing. We’re four times busier now than we were back in 2002….People are still embracing these new sports for them. We see kids growing up through our programs. I think that the values that we teach here, not only just sports being physically active but the Olympic values are being passed on through our programs.”
If you’re more adventurous, the Olympic Sports Park offers skeleton and luge courses and year round bobsled rides with a trained driver.
Jeremy Andrus is the CEO of Traeger Grills and a member of the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee.
“It’s a ton of fun,” Andrus said. “I’ve gone up and done the bobsled in the summertime actually and it is an experience…Getting behind a professional driver, going 80 miles an hour around this track. It’s for anyone who wants to come up and access them…The venues that were built for the 2002 Olympics have been very well maintained. They’ve been maintained at a level that’s great for elite competitors…If you build the venues and put that much investment into it and they fall into disrepair, it’s bad for everyone. It’s bad for the Olympics. It’s bad for the region where they’re built and it’s something that Utah has been very thoughtful around.”
“Every year 1.4 million people use those legacy venues and it helps in creating some revenues so there’s not as much subsidies to keep them up,” Andrus continues. “By upkeeping these venues it says the Olympic legacy is intact, that we care. That we feel pride in ’02 and we feel motivated to bring the Olympics back here again.”
These venues are perhaps the most important component to getting the bid for the 2030 Winter Games. Co-chairman of the Olympic Exploratory Committee and COO of the 2002 Games Fraser Bullock says we’re “ready willing and able” to host the world again 12 years from now.
“It’s a huge advantage because many countries, many cities won’t even bid for the Olympics because it’s too expensive,” Bullock said. “They have to spend and lose potentially billions of dollars putting in all the infrastructure. We have it all so we’re able to do this much more economically than any other site.”
For more information on Utah Olympic venue activities, schedules and prices, go to https://utaholympiclegacy.org/#
Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation is a non-profit organization responsible for maintaining our Olympic facilities and using them to provide opportunities for people of …