Salt Lake City, Utah will host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games
Let the Games begin
Salt Lake City gets set for 2002 date in global spotlight
January 27, 1998
Web posted at: 11:04 a.m. EDT (1104 GMT)
From CNN Travel Guide Correspondent Stephanie Oswald
SALT LAKE CITY (CNN) -- In just 10 days, the Winter Olympics get underway, and Nagano, Japan, will become the center of the sports world. That excitement comes to the United States in four years' time when Salt Lake City hosts the 2002 Games.
The Wasatch mountain range makes a breathtaking entrance to the America West, where Salt Lake City vied for a place in Olympic history for more than three decades. Frank Joklik is the city's Olympic ring leader.
"I think each Olympics has to be tailored to the environment and the circumstances that prevail in the host city," said Joklik, president and CEO of Salt Lake City's organizing committee.
Right now, the city is calm. But during the next few years, a wave of construction will turn it into a world stage:
- The University of Utah will be transformed into the Olympic Village.
- The Salt Palace Convention Center will be the center ring of the media circus.
- The main events will take place at more than a dozen venues -- most of which are already in place, four years ahead of time.
"Because we built the facilities so far in advance, we now have developed athletes in speed skating, ski jumping and soon in bobsled and luge who will possibly be on the Olympic team in 2002," said John Bower, a former Olympic athlete who runs the show at the Utah Winter Sports Park.
The main events will take place at more than a dozen venues like this one -- most of which are already in place
Resorts become Olympic venues
The sports park is the newest pride and joy of Park City, 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of the Utah capital, but this part of the state long ago won favor with skiers from around the world.
The Park City area is Utah's largest and most popular place to ski. Park City itself started as a mining village in the late 1800s, and skiers started coming here in the 1960s.
With the Olympics coming to town, even these world class facilities are getting an upgrade -- and that's good news for tourists now and in the future. Utah's 14 ski resort areas will bask in the global spotlight.
"Snow Basin, Deer Valley, Park City ... We worked with the owners of those resorts to put the competition venues right in their facilities," said Joklik. "We supply the build-out for the Olympics, but they have plans to improve the support facilities at these venues to make a really first-rate hosting of the Alpine venues."
The pre-Olympic attraction sell-outs are just an indication of what's in store for Utah
Winning tradition to follow
What's more -- these games are expected to produce a winning tradition for American athletes to last long after the winter of 2002.
"For years and years we've had to develop our athletes in a little town of Lake Placid (New York)," said former Olympic athlete Randy Will who heads up the bobsled track, "which is fine, but now with the diversity and the ability to train more and train better athletes and more efficiently -- (that) should put us on top of the medal podium in future Olympics, not just 2002, but further on down the line. We're looking 50 years into the future."
Tourists can currently buy time on the Olympic bobsled and luge track. The cost is between $27 and $125, depending on the type of ride -- but they are instant sell-outs. And that's just another indication of what's in store for Utah in February 2002, when Salt Lake City gets a taste of global glory.
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