Utah's schoolchildren may soon be getting a first-hand look at winter sports with a little help from the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee.

In cooperation with the Utah State Office of Education, the bid committee has launched a program to teach students about the basics of winter sports equipment as well as introduce them to how athletes prepare for competition.At the Utah Education Association convention a week ago, teachers were introduced to a van that will transport everything from the first skates of world-class skater Holly Cook from Bountiful to a miniature bobsled. The van will be used as part of an "Olympic Education Day" program that includes school assemblies and classroom demonstrations about the Winter Olympics.

During a typical assembly - which will cost schools $100 - students will view a 15-minute video about winter sports, the athletes, the training and personal rewards. Students can touch winter sports equipment and be taught about the values espoused by the Olympic movement, officials said.

If they are available, Olympic athletes will participate in the assembly and the school will be presented an Olympic flag.

Toni Faulk, a senior at Weber State College, who is coordinating the 45- to 50-minute assemblies, said the program will also include a history of Utah's Olympic bid and what hosting the 1998 Winter Games would mean for the state. She also hopes students will understand the personal rewards of striving for excellence and sports participation.

Some 90 teachers across the state signed up at the UEA meeting to bring the program to their schools, according to Robin Wagge, spokeswoman for the bid committee.

The winter sports curriculum, approved as part of the state's "Healthy Lifestyles" course, includes a 24-page booklet borrowed from Calgary Winter Olympic organizers. The booklet, entitled "Cool Facts," explains the history of 11 winter sports. The booklet will give students pointers on how to participate and how to watch the different sports.

For example, tips on watching a bobsled run include watching for "ice sprays" that indicates the pilot is steering too hard around corners or noting the fastest starts that result in some of the fastest bobsled runs. The booklet also mentions Olympic venues yet to be constructed in Utah.



Where to call

Teachers and administrators who want more information about having an "Olympic Education Day" at their school should contact:

Toni Faulk

Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee

420 E. South Temple, Suite 340

Salt Lake City, UT 84111

(801) 322-1998