A Salt Lake Olympics working group penciled in tentative venues this week where athletes in the 1998 Winter Olympics could be going for the gold if the city wins its bid for the games.
Beginning with opening ceremonies at the University of Utah's Rice Stadium, the sites span from Provo to Ogden to Salt Lake City and Summit County and could comprise the bulk of the city's bid before the U.S. Olympic Committee."Technically, there won't be a better bid before the USOC," said Neil Richardson, chairman of the organizing committee's technical subcommittee, noting that all the sites are compactly located close by the city.
The subcommittee must formally vote on the venue selections next week, Richardson said. The sites then must be approved by the entire organizing committee, composed of more than 50 members.
The committee spent nearly five hours Thursday night sorting through proposed sites and applying two dozen technical and environmental criteria to the sites before selecting each venue.
"We got virtually unanimous decisions on all our sites," Richardson said. Winter sports representatives, environmentalists and city and state officials reached a near consensus on approving the sites, he said.
None of the primary sites selected Thursday are in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, where much of Salt Lake City's watershed is. Environmentalists and Mayor Palmer DePaulis don't want venues in the canyons.
But the committee tabled choosing a downhill ski race backup site after selecting Snow Basin, near Ogden, as the primary site. Members could not agree on whether to list Snowbird, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, as a secondary site.
The venues chosen Thursday lend strength to the city's bid because much of the facilities needed are already available or on line, Richardson said. The downhill site at Snow Basin is "equal to or better than any in Europe," he said.
Additionally, Salt Lake City is building International Ski Federation-approved cross-country ski center at Mountain Dell Golf Course in Parleys Canyon and the state has committed $2 million to go toward a ski-jumping facility, he said.
The ski jump, together with a bobsled-luge run, would most appropriately be in Summit County near the site of historic Ecker Hill, five miles east of the Summit County line on I-80, said committee member Jack Turner, an Olympic ski jumper.
The committee deferred some site selection to the organizing committee, voting to name the Huntsman Events Center at the University of Utah and the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University in Provo as possible hockey venues.
Additionally, speed skating could be held at the state fairgrounds in Salt Lake City or a yet-to-be-determined site in Ogden. Figure skating could be held at the potentially expanded Salt Palace or the Cottonwood Heights Community Recreation Center, the committee agreed.
(chart) Possible venues
-Salt Lake City: opening and closing ceremonies
-Park City: women's, men's, and disabled slalom
-Deer Valley: women's, men's, and disabled giant slalom
-Snow Basin: women's, men's downhill, combined downhill, and super giant sla lom
-Parkwest: women's, men's, ballet and moguls.
-Mountain Dell: women's, men's cross-country skiing and biathlon, disabled cr oss country skiing.
-Summit County: ski jumping, bobsled and luge competition
-Salt Lake City or Provo: hockey
-Salt Lake City or Ogden: speed skating
-Salt Lake City: figure skating