The prospect of Utah hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics improved when officials turned down Anchorage, Alaska, and selected a small European village for the 1994 games, a state promoter said.

Tom Welch, chairman of the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee, told the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday that with the next two winter games going to Europe (the 1992 games will be in Albertville, France, and the 1994 bid went to Lillehammer, Norway) the 1998 selection will be between the United States and the Orient.And, in vying for the American bid, Salt Lake City won't have to compete with Anchorage again, Welch said, because the Alaskan city has lost twice and probably won't receive support again from the United States Olympic Committee.

Admitting to his ongoing "war of words" with Anchorage officials, Welch said history shows that repeatedly entering the selection process doesn't assure a win and that Salt Lake City has a more national approach that will appeal to both the domestic and international selection committees.

"Anchorage had to help us by isolating themselves from America and trying just to sell themselves," he said.

"The International Olympic Committee is made up of kings and national leaders who don't know where Salt Lake City is. Our approach will involve more of America and what (it) stands for."

Alaska is also isolated geographically, causing concern over future use of the facilities after the games. That issue alone has turned support toward a continental city hosting the games, Welch said.

Other cities expected to provide stiff competition for Salt Lake are Denver and Portland.

Welch said he received "indications" from U.S. Olympic Committee officials in Seoul, Korea, when the Lillehammer choice was made, that Salt Lake will get more consideration the next time around.

Since its first rejection by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1985, the Salt Lake delegation has not stopped its efforts to bring the Olympics to Utah. Welch has remained in contact with Olympic officials and attended this year's games in Calgary, Canada, and Seoul, Korea, to learn more about the selection process.

"We're also getting more involved in amateur athletics" to let officials know Utah has the capability to provide the facilities and support for the games, Welch said.

World Cup skiing events will be held in Park City next year, he said, and an Olympic standard cross-country ski course is being constructed near Mountain Dell for the event.

"We are getting some facilities put in (beforehand) to show this is a venue for winter sports," Welch said.

To alleviate local environmental concerns, Welch said, organizers for the Utah bid will involve "responsible environmentalists" to help address potential problems the international event could cause.

"We hope to unite the entire community with this Olympic cause," he said.