Utah might be seen by many across the country as a boring, hum-drum place with boring, hum-drum people.
That perception is changing, though, as the state continues to attract some of the biggest and most adrenaline-popping sporting events in the world.
Next week, Salt Lake City will host the hugely popular Dew Tour, with events ranging from skateboard to BMX and freestyle motocross. A pair of Olympic medalists from China will be in town to show off their skills in the BMX Supercross.
Mike Day and Donny Robinson won silver and bronze, respectively, in the Beijing Games, and the Dew Tour will be their first big competition since returning from the Olympics.
The Supercross series, which returns to Utah for the first time since 2004, will fill Rice-Eccles Stadium with mountains of dirt, screaming engines and more than 40,000 motorcycle fans.
"Over the past four years, we have worked extremely hard to deliver world-class action sports and motorsports to the state of Utah," Jeff Robbins, CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, said. "We are committed to make Utah the hub of action sports, and bringing supercross back is a step in the right direction."
The events are expected to bring thousands of fans from outside the Salt Lake Valley into town with their wallets and create an economic impact in the tens of millions of dollars.
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., spoke at a press conference last week when the Supercross series formally announced its return.
"At different functions over the past few years, I've run into several fans that have asked me when supercross was going to come back to Salt Lake City," Huntsman said. "It's important for the younger generation of riders to be a part of what the greatest racers in the world are doing. By bringing the race back to Utah, we will give those younger riders a chance to watch their heroes live."
Travis Pastrana, a Supercross, FMX and action sports superstar, was in Utah last week filming commercials and made a quick stop at Rice-Eccles Stadium where the AMA was holding a press conference.
Though he was not formally part of the event, organizers took notice of his presence and proclaimed him the "unofficial ambassador of action sports in Utah."
"I love this state," Pastrana bellowed from the back of the room, "and I love the governor."
Utah-based companies such as OGIO have become huge sponsors of the action tours and have an indoor training facility at their headquarters in Bluffdale. The facility is a frequent stop for sponsored athletes as they prepare for upcoming competitions. The Free Flow Tour, which might be considered as the minor leagues for the Dew Tour and X Games, has frequent competitions at the facility as well, including one this weekend.X-Game legends such as Shawn White, Bob Bernquist and Ryan Sheckler make the Dew Tour a part of their schedule and are expected to compete next week.
UTAH'S ACTION SPORTS HOOKUP
Dew Tour Toyota Challenge
Energy Solutions Arena
April, 25, 2009