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Heber City Council to determine priorities for role in future Olympics

A skier at the 2023 Para Nordic World Cup crosses over the bridge at Soldier Hollow near the race course finish line.
Ben Lasseter
A skier at the 2023 Para Nordic World Cup crosses over the bridge at Soldier Hollow near the race course finish line. The site was home to the 2002 Olympic biathlon.

Salt Lake City is the preferred host for the 2034 Olympics, and Heber’s leaders are considering what role the city will play if the Games return to Utah.

The Olympics are anticipated to return to the state in 10 years, and Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation CEO Colin Hilton says Wasatch Back leaders should be making plans now for the events.

The Heber City Council’s annual retreat, where the council sets priorities for the year, opened with remarks from Hilton Thursday night.

He told the council the foundation wants to help the Wasatch Back get ready to host again.

“We want to elevate our communities, we want to elevate sport – especially winter sport in the state – and we want to elevate the Games experience,” he said.

Wasatch County is most likely to be involved in future Olympic events through Soldier Hollow, home to the 2002 biathlon, and the Deer Valley ski resort expansion now under construction.

Hilton told Heber City’s leaders rather than putting in temporary infrastructure just for the Games, they should strategize permanent construction that will complement the city’s goals for revitalizing downtown, especially given the economic opportunities that come with the Olympics. He cited temporary parking by the Heber Valley Airport from the 2002 Games.

“If you have an interest to retain before or after the event more people going to shops, restaurants, spending in town, maybe we don’t put the park-and-ride out there,” he suggested. “Maybe it’s a little closer in town.”

He added it would be ideal to complete the bypass road before the Olympics to make access from the highway easier. Hilton said the 2034 deadline can be helpful to bring the community together to work toward development goals.

“If you have that vision of developing or redeveloping your downtown, shoot for whatever it looks like by 2033,” he said. “Have it done a year before.”

Hilton emphasized it’s key for leaders to come to a consensus on priorities for development ahead of the games so the Olympic Legacy Foundation can help make it happen.

“I'll be one of the ones working with communities to figure out, what do you want to see happen?” he told the council. “Do you want just to have people come in and out? We can do that. Do you want us to try to tie into a new arts and culture district or redevelop downtown restaurants, shops? We can do that… We want to know what you want out of this experience.”

He reminded the group the venues and infrastructure a 2034 Olympics would require can be used for much more than Olympic events. He described the venues now open to the public as “places of inspiration” for young Utahns in particular.

And he said hosting the Games will be an unmatched chance to introduce visitors from around the world to the Heber Valley, whether through local families hosting guests or the city setting up watch sites around town.

Salt Lake City has been named as the preferred host for the 2034 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee will make its official announcement in July.