Utah taxpayers Saturday got to view the first tangible evidence of their $56 million winter-sports investment, which they approved more than two years ago.
While snow fell and skiers flew off the mountain, a crowd cheered Utah officials as they formally opened ski-jumping facilities at the Utah Winter Sports Park. At the end of the ceremony, the hill was inaugurated by a jump by Bryan Sanders, 21, a member of the U.S. Ski Team, and a jumping competition was held."This truly is a great day, a day of fulfillment, a day of promise," said Gov. Mike Leavitt. "In an election in 1989, a clear majority of the voters in this state approved the use of public funds to build a winter sports park and new winter infrastructure in our state. Today is a fulfillment of a major element of that mandate."
Construction of the park is part of a strategy to create a regional winter sports training center and bring the Winter Olympic Games to Utah. Utah lost out to Nagano, Japan, for the chance to host the 1998 Games. The city now is seeking the bid for the 2002 Games.
About $7.9 million has been budgeted for the eight ski jumps. A ninth jump, the longest, would have to be constructed if Utah wins the Olympic bid. In 1994, construction is expected to begin at the park on a bobsled-luge run, expected to cost between $17 and $20 million.
Harvey Schiller, executive director of the United States Olympic Committee, told the crowd, "We want to congratulate the people of Utah for making this tremendous commitment to sports. We too look forward to the Games of 2002. As of today, you have more facilities in place than the city of Atlanta had for the 1996 (Summer) Games." Tom Welch, president of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee, said, "Let the word go forth from this time and place (that) the legacy is in place. Let the world take note that a center of excellence has been established for winter sport - Salt Lake City."
Earlier, members of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee were told to take nothing for granted, particularly with a challenge from Quebec for the 2002 Games.
Anita DeFrantz, a member of the International Olympic Committee's executive board, said Olympic voting can be surprising, noting how stunned some members of the IOC were when Lille-ham-mer, Norway, won the 1994 Winter Games.
"I remind you of that because it is possible to feel that you are so far ahead that it is going to be a breeze," she said. "Be able to go forward and on the final day know, whatever is going to happen, that you did all you could."
Along with Quebec and Salt Lake City, DeFrantz expects another one or two cities to bid for the 2002 Games.
Welch said that Quebec amounts to "good competition" for the Games.
"They (Quebec) will outspend us probably 2-to-1, but they're a great winter city. Their alpine venues are somewhat lacking," Welch said.Comment on this story
He said that Salt Lake City will concentrate on a theme that says it "takes time to become a cham-pion."
Frank Joklik, chairman of the bid committee, said the committee expects to spend $5.5 million from July 1993 to June 1995 to woo votes for the 2002 Winter Games. The IOC meets in Budapest, Hungary in June 1995 to select the 2002 Winter Games host.
Joklik admitted that raising the amount was a "tremendous challenge" and said that committee members will be called on to help broaden the base of support for the campaign.