Officials tour Utah facilities looking for answers to sustain the national health, fitness phenomenon
"We had a vision," said Natalie Gochnour, a Utah Athletic Foundation board member. "It was never about those 18 days. It was about having a winter sports capital." She said the Oval, which is managed by the foundation, didn't peak immediately following the 2002 Olympics, but hit an all-time high attendance record just last year.
"Beyond the Olympics, we saw into the future to see what sports could do to change lives," Gochnour said. The Oval partners with neighboring Beehive Elementary School to facilitate physical education for the schoolchildren, providing a different environment than the typical classroom.
Grade schoolers are no longer required to get physical education credits during school hours, but do participate in recess and, at various Gold Medal schools throughout the state, spend time walking around specified "Gold Medal Mile" routes.
"There are some basic skills every child should know," said Marc Norman, vice president of sport and venues for the Utah Athletic Foundation.
The Oval course helps kids learn movements that make them feel comfortable on the ground, in the air, in water, on ice and on snow. Norman said that when kids know how to properly jump, run, throw and slide, they're more apt to enjoy it down the road in their lives.
Without a strong constituent or advocacy group for prevention or health promotion, Salt Lake Valley Health Department Director Gary Edwards said action has to be taken without waiting for funding.
"It doesn't take a ton of money," he said. "It takes one person being creative."
Edwards said various programs throughout the state are "starting to make a difference" in people's lives and in the overall condition of the state, and "we've got to keep going."
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