U.S. Olympic Committee gives nod to Utah over Colorado for potential 2030 Winter Games bid

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December 18, 2018, 5:16 pm
Park City’s Ted Ligety, the only American man to win two Olympic gold medals in ski racing, discusses Utah’s advantages over Denver as a possible 2030 Winter Olympics host. Provo’s Steve Nyman, also an Olympian, looks on (David O. Williams photo).

The United States Olympic Committee on Friday announced it will put Salt Lake City forward as a potential host for the 2030 Winter Olympics, snubbing a Denver and overall Colorado bid in favor of the 2002 host.

There is not yet an official 2030 bid process with the International Olympic Committee, but both Salt Lake and Denver had put forth proposals after Reno-Tahoe recently dropped out. Denver’s was a unique proposal with no public funding and the proposed use of venues in other states.

Salt Lake was primarily focused on utilizing its existing venues, which have been well-maintained and utilized over the last 16 years. And Utah Olympians recently in town for World Cup ski races in Colorado accurately predicted Utah would again get the nod, citing its existing venues and proximity to the state’s major metro area.

Denver is the only city to ever be awarded the Games (1976) and then reject them because of a public vote, and the Denver exploratory committee was again recommending another public vote in Colorado, and some significant opposition was again starting to surface.

USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland, on a Friday night conference call with reporters, said existing venues and proximity definitely factored in.

“That’s absolutely an important factor, and as we look forward it is critical to ensure that we have the ability to create an incredible experience for athletes around the Olympic and Paralympic Games while at the same time managing sustainability and fiscal responsibility,” Hirshland said. “The venues in place in Salt Lake City certainly provide for all of those things to occur.”

Hirshland went on to say that community support in Utah was overwhelming.

“There is also incredible support from the community at large and really all facets – the business community, the political and municipal communities and the general public,” Hirshland said. “It was very clear to us when we were there and in what they presented that Salt Lake City very much understands the practical realities of hosting a Games but also wants and supports what they represent and are very proud to represent the United States in doing just that.

“So it was a variety of criteria, but they had some very unique advantages and certainly the venues and the existence of those venues and the proximity of those venues is one of those advantages.” she added.

Ski resorts in Utah are a mere half-hour drive from Salt Lake’s international airport, whereas Colorado resorts are two to three hourse away — a drive that sometimes takes hours in bad weather.

Here’s the USOC press release on Friday’s announcement:

U.S. Olympic Committee selects Salt Lake City for potential 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid
Partnership to continue dialogue with IOC and explore 2030 candidature

SAN FRANCISCO – The United States Olympic Committee today selected Salt Lake City to represent the United States in a potential 2030 bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The USOC board of directors has expressed interest in bidding for future winter Games but has not determined when a formal bid may occur. This selection affords the USOC and Salt Lake City the opportunity to move forward with the International Olympic Committee’s ongoing dialogue phase.

“I’d like to thank Denver and Salt Lake City, and their respective leadership teams, for participating in this process and their commitment to make the Olympic and Paralympic movements stronger,” said USOC Chair Larry Probst. “We’re incredibly lucky to have multiple able and willing cities to choose from, but in the end, we believe Salt Lake City will give us the best chance to return the winter Games to the U.S.”

Each city was asked for information related to its overall concept and vision for the Games, its proposed venue plan, transport and accommodations solutions, political and public support, and a proposed Games budget. USOC staff and board leadership visited each city to further understand the proposed Games and public opinion polling was conducted at the end of November.

“The United States is committed to hosting Games that are both remarkable and practical, and we believe that Salt Lake City is the community most capable of delivering against that promise,” said USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “This exploration process was a unique opportunity for the USOC to develop even stronger partnerships with each city and state and all involved will continue to play a critical role in our winter athletes’ success.”

“We are truly humbled and honored to be the USOC’s choice to bid for a future Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “We take our role as a member of the Olympic family seriously and look forward to showing the international community how Salt Lake City is ready, willing, and able to host a modern, sustainable, and athlete focused Games which further the spirit of sport and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”

The Denver and Colorado Winter Games Exploratory Committee issued the following statement:

Statement from Rob Cohen, chair of the Denver and Colorado Winter Games Exploratory Committee:

I’m proud of the new and unique model for hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games that was developed by the Denver and Colorado Exploratory Committee and presented to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). We proposed hosting the Games in a new and innovative way, the Colorado Way, but we recognize that now may not be the right time for such a model.

It is disappointing that one of the world’s great winter sports destinations will not have the opportunity to partner with the USOC on a future bid, especially given that more than 60 percent of Colorado voters favor us hosting the Winter Games. Yet I believe that our community is better for having gone through this process as we continue to look forward and pursue opportunities to showcase our great city and state on the world stage. I’d like to personally congratulate Salt Lake City on its selection. We fully support the United States’ pursuit of a future Winter Games, as this is now America’s bid.

The US Ski and Snowboard Association put out this release:

U.S. SKI & SNOWBOARD WELCOMES SALT LAKE CITY OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES DECISION
PARK CITY, Utah (Dec. 14, 2018) – U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the Olympic National Governing Body (NGB) of ski and snowboard sports in the USA, welcomes the decision announced Friday, December 14, by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to back Salt Lake City as a possible future Olympic Winter Games destination.
“The possibility of having a future Olympic Winter Games in the USA is incredibly exciting,” said Tiger Shaw, President and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “Colorado and Utah have created many of the world’s best athletes in our sports and both have been very supportive in hosting world class events. We are very appreciative of the passion and commitment from both states, Denver and Salt Lake City, and those propelling the bids. Naturally we are excited that U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s home state of Utah is the home of the USOC’s chosen bid city of Salt Lake City. The 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Legacy Foundation, Utah Sports Commission and generous citizens have kept current and grown the Olympic venues, providing exceptional development opportunities for Olympic hopefuls. This impact will only grow with an Olympic bid.
“This news also raises excitement levels even higher about the forthcoming 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships, taking place in Utah in February 2019,” Shaw continued. “Those events will include a number of sports that will make their FIS World Championships debut ahead of their first appearance at an Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, 2022, and the opportunity to showcase how ready Utah is to stage world-class snowsports competitions just raises the stakes even higher for the events that will take place from February 1 to 10, 2019. This is truly an incredible time to be part of the winter sports community in the USA!”
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David O. Williams
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.
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