A recent approval by the Snyderville Planning Commission is allowing the Utah Olympic Park to take the next step in expanding training opportunities for ski athletes.
Approval was given in 2019 for the first stage of ski runs and lifts in the Park’s Mountain Expansion Program.
Colin Hilton, director of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, had the details about Phase II, approved unanimously by the Snyderville Planning Commission at their December 8th meeting.
“That is moving over to the what we call the West Peak, just to the right as you look at the bobsled track, looking uphill. This would create two runs from the top of the peak, and provide a full-length giant slalom training runs, as well as a slalom and moguls run.”
Phase II also includes a 3500-foot-long lift.
The overall cost for the Phase is $8 million. Hilton said they have $2.5 million still to raise.
Funding is coming not just from the Legacy Foundation, but from three sport clubs—Park City Ski and Snowboard; the University of Utah Club; and Rowmark Academy.
Hilton said they plan to start construction next summer.
Snyderville Commisisoners wondered about lighting impacts. Hilton said the reason they have night lighting is simple. Their young athletes are in school until 3, and night is falling by the time they get to the training runs at 4:30 or 5.
Hilton was asked how the UOP would compare to Woodward. He noted that the Park lights are further away from highways and roadways.
“The evolution of sport lighting has allowed us to be able to provide the performance needed for the safety of the racers, that they make turns, but also to have a light coloring and things that’s a little more, if you will, a softer white light, as opposed to a daylight, very white washed-out light. So we think it’ll be more closer to what you saw as you come into town, and the old Payday run over at Park City Mountain Resort that provides a what we think is a unique look. And our view is—I look up the mountain, and I see the lights on, and I’m smiling because these kids are off their couch, they’re on the mountain, they’re training, they’re getting exercise.”
He said the lights at the Park are turned off by 9 p.m., although their Development Agreement allows them to go until 11.
At the public hearing before Snyderville Planning, a couple of Sun Peak residents asked about the lights. Hilton said there would be little impact on that neighborhood, since their runs are facing more toward Kimball Junction and Ecker Hill.
The Expansion program has a Phase III, but Hilton said it’s not entirely defined at this point.
“That’s just expanding the terrain to allow additional training lanes, and more disciplines for more of our pre-ski and potential different-discipline training areas. And that’s not totally-defined yet. But we’ve got some added terrain that will help with as we grow over time. (Leslie) So would that include more lifts and lights. (Hilton) No more lifts, and to be determined on the lights.”
Looking to the coming season, Hilton said they hope to have some competitive events for January or February. But there won’t be spectators, due to Covid precautions.
As for a future Olympics, Hilton said planning talks are still mostly in private.
But he’s optimistic, since their facilities are already built; training activities there are underway; they have regional support for a Games in 2030 or 2034; and they’re already budgeting well in advance for a Winter Games paid for with private funding.