New snow will get youth training back on track at the UOP
The Utah Olympic Park is open for competitions and with the new snow this week, it should have the rest of its youth training facilities open shortly.
The CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation Colin Hilton says thanks to a newly renovated track, they’ve been hosting bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton competitions already this season.
“We have invested lots of money into the track,” Hilton said. “We actually completed about a $5 million renovation of the refrigeration system for the bobsled track. So, no small dollar amount for that operation and so that has really refreshed it back to the proper operating system so that things dialed in.”
But warm temperatures the past month have hampered their efforts to get the skiing hill open for training. Last year the hill opened November 17th. This week’s snow though he says will do the trick.
Currently, the UOP has one chairlift in its training area and a second one will be installed next summer.
Like other businesses in town, he says hiring a full staff hasn’t been easy.
“We're like everybody else. It's slim, but I gotta say, we’re real proud of a staff we've retained those that we've recruited to work for us,” Hilton said. “And I think we're doing a little better than most. We’re very happy with the team. We've really focused on investing in our people and paying a fair wage and I think our getting out in front of that a little bit sooner even for the, you know, not just our lowest wage earners, but are middle wage earners who are really attracted to find that next spot. So, I’m real happy with our how our managers and management teams at each of the three venues have approached a tough labor market and a lot of it is, you know, appreciating your workforce and supporting and giving them voices and how we're operating and that has gone a long way for us.”
What the Utah Olympic Park has that many others don’t -- is employee housing. The UOP bonded for the multi-million dollar project in 2018 to build a four-story, 72-unit facility that features about 30 short term hotel rooms to accommodate visiting athletes and guests and 43 long-term apartments for athletes who have moved to Utah to train as well as UOP staff. All of those units he says are filled.
“I look back at that decision to get that facility built is just awesome,” Hilton said. “It has helped not only for having employee housing at the park, but also for athletes and coaches who have moved into the community or want to stay in the community to train at our legacy venues. And that's been a real plus. It's essentially a breakeven operation for us. But real happy when we got it built when construction prices were still reasonable. And we actually anticipate building more in the future.”
As the state looks forward to hosting a future Olympic Games, Hilton says the $2.2 billion budget released this week includes money for future legacy projects. It will create a sustainable future for all of the Olympic venues to not only cover all operating costs, but also capital repairs and upkeep costs.