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Wasatch County leaders brainstorm for Olympics as IOC visits venues

Soldier Hollow in Midway would host several events if the Olympics return to Utah in 2034.
Grace Doerfler / KPCW
Soldier Hollow in Midway would host several events if the Olympics return to Utah in 2034.

Wasatch County leaders say they’ll plan ways to improve sustainability and engage youth if the Olympics come back to Utah in 2034.

The Olympics may be a decade away from returning to Utah, but leaders are already talking about how to welcome the world to the Heber Valley.

At an interlocal meeting Wednesday night, April 10, representatives from around the county had a preliminary discussion of steps they want to take if the Games return.

Heber City Mayor Heidi Franco said the International Olympic Committee will be looking for Utah to meet certain criteria.

“One of them is sustainability, as well as elevating the sport for youth and families,” she said. “We need to think about that sustainability aspect because the IOC might be looking for that in every venue.”

She said so far, county leaders have spent more time thinking about economic development, tourism and transportation ahead of a potential Games.

Heber City manager Matt Brower named downtown revitalization projects, like the bandshell on 200 South, as examples of how the city hopes to attract tourists during the Olympics. He said venues like that one can host spectators during competition.

If Utah is confirmed as the host of the 2034 Games, Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway will be the venue for the biathlon, cross country skiing and Nordic combined competitions.

Franco praised improvements to the venue since the 2002 Games.

“If any of you haven’t been out to see the improvements at Soldier Hollow, you should,” she said. “The building is fantastic. The improvements on the shooting range and the media setup they have there is pretty amazing.”

But in addition to appealing to the IOC, some leaders emphasized they want to be sure any Olympic planning has the county’s best interests at the forefront.

“This might be the wrong thing to say, but I think we need to think about the citizens of Wasatch County first,” county councilmember Steve Farrell said.

Salt Lake City has already been named the preferred host for the 2034 Games, and it’s the only official bid.

Wasatch leaders will form an Olympics organizing committee after the official announcement of the 2034 host this July.