As Tokyo Olympics approach, here’s where Utah stands with Olympic bid

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LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 13: Speed skater Catherine Raney poses for a portrait during the NBC/USOC Promotional Photo Shoot on May 13, 2009 at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Utah (ABC4) – Catherine Raney Norman has a pretty impressive record. An Olympic Speed Skater who competed in four Olympic games, set three U.S. records, and was inducted into the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame, she has yet another accomplishment to add to that list.

Raney Norman was recently named Chair of the Salt Lake City Utah Committee for the Games, whose goal is to bring the games back to Utah for 2030 or 2034.

“I’m very humbled and honored. I’ve always said I’m committed to being a part of this in any way, shape, or form, and it’s just an honor to be involved in any capacity. So to now be appointed as the chair- it’s amazing quite honestly,” she says.

As far as the odds of having the games return to Utah, Raney Norman tells ABC4 she is optimistic. She says she believes it is not a matter of if the games will return, but when.

“We are making sure that we’re ready for a 2030 bid or a 2034 bid. Or in the event that it goes longer, we’ll be ready longer. But Utah is incredibly well positioned because we have our facilities, because we’ve continued on with our legacy through our programming. We are very sport friendly: summer sports, winter sports, non traditional sports,” she states. “I really believe that it is a matter of when and not if. We are just making sure to do our due diligence to be prepared for that moment.”

In addition to Salt Lake City, locations like Vancouver, Canada, Sapporo, Japan, and Barcelona, Spain are potentially in the running for hosting future Olympic Games.

Though not a Utah native, Raney Norman remembers falling in love with the state while training.

“I remember I would go out on my bike rides and just think to myself, wow. My job is to go out and ride my bike and stare at these beautiful mountains. I’m so fortunate. You could be climbing up Big Cottonwood or little cottonwood on your bike- it’s incredibly hard- but man, have you got beautiful scenery to suffer through,” she laughs.

Raney Norman is not the only athlete on the board, which is pushing for more input from athletes.

“We have made it a very strong priority of ours to ensure that we have athlete involvement throughout this entire process…,” she says. “We are so fortunate here in Utah to have so many amazing athletes. They all have such diverse backgrounds and skill sets, and so we took this opportunity to add on additional athletes to our board to further and enhance that voice for athlete, input athlete enrollment, and athlete perspective in our planning process as we move forward.”

According to Raney Norman, there are multiple factors that make Utah the perfect location for a future Olympic Games.

“2002 just represented this amazing games, and we have these incredible facilities. We have a community that embraces Olympic and Paralympic sports. We have government leaders who embrace this, and so it really is kind of this almost perfect storm here in Utah to move forward with hopefully a return of another games,” she explains.

“One of the things that is always advantageous for athletes and especially for somebody like myself that was a distance athlete is, Utah has that benefit of high altitude, which is a fit for for distance athletes, so now you’ve got world class facilities. You’ve got environmental conditions that are conducive to performance, and really, you have all those other wraparound services and partnerships. It really is an ideal location for us,” she adds.

The committee has raised 1.5 million for the Olympic bid through private funding and has an approved budget of $3.8 million.

The budget is “significantly lower than most budgets budgets, and a lot of that is attributed to the fact that in Utah we have this sort of spirit of volunteerism. There are a lot of people volunteering their time, and we had that institutional knowledge from individuals having worked on the prior 2002 Games,” she states

There are many steps that go into creating an Olympic bid. One step that the committee is currently working on is putting together a bid booklet that will be presented to the International Olympic Committee. The booklet highlights Utah’s venues, infrastructure, airport and hotels, and community engagement activities, Raney Norman explains.

She says having institutional knowledge in place from the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, has been invaluable to current Olympic bid efforts. She says the committee has also been able to re-engage many individuals who helped facilitate the games in 2002.

“At the same time, we’re looking at opportunities to kind of grow the next generation of sport leaders and help to mentor future leaders,” she explains. “So it really is an advantage that we have this institutional knowledge, this background, people who have been involved for so many years that can help us to move this effort forward, and at the same time help to bring up new leaders within sport.”

Raney Norman describes the Olympic bid process as an incredible opportunity to have an impact on Utah’s community.

“It’s going to be a journey, and I know people think it’s far off but it’s coming up quickly. We have kids who are training for 2030 and are dreaming about 2030 and 2034. That’s happening; it is happening right now. There is there are kids that are dreaming about this right now so, it will be here sooner than we know,’ she says.

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