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SALT LAKE CITY INVITED TO HOST WINTER OLYMPICS OF 2034

by Abby Slenker

PARK CITY, UT (Dec 7, 2023)- Last Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) extended an invitation to Salt Lake City to participate in the next phase of discussions regarding the potential host of the Winter Olympics. This development marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to bring the Games back to Utah since their last appearance in 2002.


"As the Olympics return to Salt Lake City, my golden memories echo in the mountain air. Join me in embracing the Olympic spirit – an invitation for all to volunteer, unite, and be a part of the extraordinary journey that defines the essence of these Games." shared Tristan Gale. In the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, she became the inaugural champion in the sport of Women’s Skeleton, a historic and important achievement for the Stars and Stripes.


On the bobsled side of things, the 2002 Games were also especially significant; for the first time since 1932, there was a new event added to the Olympic bobsled roster, with the first-ever women's bobsled competition, won by Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers of the United States.


In total, three bobsledding events and two skeleton events were competed at the 2002 Winter Olympics at Utah Olympic Park: 4-Man Bobsled, 2-Man Bobsled, 2-Woman Bobsled, Women’s Skeleton and Men’s Skeleton. In both Men’s and Women’s Skeleton, the United States reigned supreme, with Jim Shea Jr. winning gold in the men’s event, Gale winning gold in the women’s event and Lee Ann Parsley taking home silver. In the bobsled events, three metals in total were won: silver in 4-Man (team comprising of Garret Hines, Randy Jones, Todd Hays and Bill Schuffenhauer), bronze in 4-Man (Brian Shimer, Dan Steele, Doug Sharp and Mike Kohn) and lastly but certainly not least, the first-ever gold in 2-Woman earned by Bakken and Flowers.


Now, a projected 32 years later, another chance to make history at this historic location on the biggest stage in the world arises again.


“I am very excited about the Winter Olympics returning to the place where I ended my athletic career on such a high note. It’s very special to have another chance to support Team USA on home soil. What a honor it would be to possibly coach in my eighth Winter Olympic Games giving back to a sport that has been such a privilege to be a part of…regardless, as one of Team USA’s biggest fans, I will be looking forward to Salt Lake City putting on another spectacular Winter Olympic Games in 2034,” shared Shimer, who now serves as USA Bobsled Head Coach.


“I am thrilled to learn that the Olympics are likely returning to Salt Lake. These games will rekindle the spirit of Utah and hold a special place in our hearts as the place where our Olympians & families made history in 2002,” explained Hines, who also currently works for USABS as a bobsledding coach.


The targeted dialogue phase for the Winter Olympics of 2034 will involve the IOC and the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, the group responsible for organizing the event.


In a new approach, the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympics will be awarded at the same time. The announcement is set to take place in Paris in July during an IOC Session, which will take place just prior to the start of the Summer Olympics in the French capital. The French Alps region has also been invited to participate in the targeted dialogue for the Winter Olympics of 2030.


Fraser Bullock, the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, remarked that, "The decision of the IOC to invite Salt Lake City-Utah into targeted dialogue as the preferred host for 2034 is a credit to our communities working together to create a welcoming region for sport across our state. For more than a decade, our state and community leaders have united toward this goal. The IOC has recognized our high level of preparedness, with all venues in place and active, as well as overwhelming support from our political and business leaders as well as the public."


Concept maps for the Games identify Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort, and the Utah Olympic Park as the prospective competition venues.


“As a native Utahn, I am honored that we will host the 2034 games. Utah is very excited and ready to take the world stage once again. The 2002 games brought the world to Utah and we showed them through a globally difficult time, what it meant to represent the Olympic Games and come together in peace and friendly competition! Now, 20-plus years later, we are ready once again. Not only do we have a great organizing committee, but we have the best volunteers and facilities in the world! We look forward to welcoming back the world and creating history and memories for so many!” Schuffenhauer shared about this exciting announcement.


The selection process for host cities has changed significantly since the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, relying more on a long-running discussion between the IOC and interested cities, followed by the targeted dialogue. The invitation to Salt Lake City was extended over ten years before the Games of 2034, as opposed to the previous process, which awarded Olympic hosts seven years in advance.


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