Some Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon ski area owners are concerned Olympic-venue selecting criteria drafted by a Salt Lake Olympic committee could exclude their resorts at the expense of the city's 1998 Winter Olympics bid.
The technical subcommittee of the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee, charged with crafting a 1998 Winter Olympics bid, has established tentative criteria for siting Olympic venues such as alpine ski events.Chief among those criteria is protecting Salt Lake City's watershed, much of which is in the two canyons where four of the Wasatch Front's eleven ski areas are located.
"If these criteria have already been set, at least some of us are already eliminated," said Snowbird owner Dick Bass at a technical subcommittee meeting Tuesday. Bass' resort is in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Additionally, Craig Badami of Park City Ski Corp., which is not in the canyons, said two other resorts, Park City and Snow Basin - which meet many criteria - may not be interested in hosting the bulk of Olympic alpine ski events.
"I'm not sure that two areas are interested in hosting all the events," Badami said. Crowded Olympic venues could displace skiers wanting to buy lift tickets just to ski, he said.
Bass said he could live with Snowbird not being selected as an Olympic site but not at the expense of a successful Olympic bid.
"When all the dust settles, if Snowbird doesn't qualify, so be it," he said.
But "you might be eliminating the possibility of Utah putting its best foot forward in this bid," he said, adding that Snowbird possesses perhaps the best downhill ski run in the world.
Technical Committee Chairman Neil Richardson said the committee would stand by the criteria but added that they were somewhat flexible.
"I just think we have to wait and see what the process (that includes the criteria) comes up with," he said.
Tom Welch, organizing committee executive chairman, said it will be the executive committee that will ultimately decide criteria for where venues are located.
"The committee is charged with coming back to the executive committee with their recommendations and the committee will either adopt or not adopt that criteria based on the arguments made."