SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The next step in bringing the future Olympics back to Utah is expected to be over 5,000 miles next month.
Members of the Salt Lake City-Utah Games Committee, led by President and CEO Fraser Bullock and Bid Chairperson Catherine Raney Norman, will travel to Lausanne, Switzerland to meet with the International Olympic Committee to discuss a potential candidacy.
While a visit to the Olympic capital may seem fun and playful, Raney Norman, a former Olympian herself, sees it as a business trip. The goal: to prepare the ground for bringing other Olympic Games to Utah in 2030 or 2034.
“We’re extremely focused and I think that’s an important stepping stone in this process,” says Raney Norman.
Although Raney Norman, a Wisconsinite turned Utahn, has competed in four Olympic Winter Games during her speed skating career, meeting the IOC for the first time in her positive position as bid chair, arouses feelings similar to those she had when representing her country. in a race on the world stage.
“It is such an honor to be in this role as an athlete, as a woman, as a sports leader, to be able to represent and have that voice for our state or our city and the athletes,” she declared. “It is a tremendous honor and a huge responsibility that I take very seriously, and close to my heart, and I recognize this is a tremendous opportunity for the United States.”
The Salt Lake City Games in 2002 were the last time the United States hosted the world’s largest sporting event, which first began in the modern era in 1896 but has roots in ancient Greece . Los Angeles is poised to put America back at the center of the sports world for the 2030 Summer Games. If the local committee can bring the 2030 Games to Utah, it would be the first time since 1936 that a country welcomes back. -back to the Olympic Games and for the first time with the alternating two-year calendar.
If the 2030 Games do not materialize for Salt Lake, the committee has also expressed interest in hosting the Olympics in 2034.
While it may be a 28 or 32 year gap between lighting an Olympic torch in Utah, Raney Norman’s pitch is going to be straightforward; the flame has never been extinguished in Salt Lake. The spirit is still alive and the facilities which hosted the Games in 2002 are still in perfect condition.
“I think it’s absolutely important and essential to point out that we have some wonderful legacy sites that are more active than they were in 2002,” she explains, citing that not only sports sites from skiing in the Park City area are still used by many Olympians. in training, the Kearns Olympic Oval is still a training center for the US speed skating team. “These places help invigorate our communities and inspire our young people. “
The fact that many state buildings, facilities and infrastructure have stood the test of time may be one of the committee’s strongest points when competing against people like Sapporo, Japan; Barcelona, Spain; Vancouver, Canada; and Ukrainian.
Several host cities, even during the recent Olympics, have struggled to set up their world-class venues in time for the first events, and many have left their facilities abandoned in the years since.
Another point that will certainly be made in Switzerland is that since the organization of the Games at the start of the new millennium, Utah has continued to grow. With the country’s youngest population, the fastest growing economy and a thriving sports landscape, Raney Norman will have a lot to brag about when she presents Utah to the IOC.
“Personally, one of the things I’ve always enjoyed living here is that you can have a good job because we’re a big metropolitan city. We’re innovative and progressive in our business, but you can play really hard here, ”she boasts. “And we have these beautiful mountains, we have amazing trails, and we kind of have this mindset and this sport culture here and I think sets us apart from a lot of other cities.”
If Utah hosts any future Games, and Raney Norman says they’ll have a better idea of which opening to focus on by this year, she’s confident residents will show up in droves to support the effort. Getting an Olympic volunteer jacket, one of Utah’s hottest fashion items in 2002, would likely be a must again over the next decade.
“A lot of this wouldn’t be possible without the support of our community, without the many people involved in it,” she said, thanking the locals who love the Olympics. “To the volunteer effort that’s brought forward again for tourism here in Utah, to those who volunteer their time to help with this, it’s huge. It is extremely commendable to have that.