PARK CITY, Utah — A veritable who’s who of the Winter Olympic community watched Spence Eccles cut the ribbon at Wednesday’s Grand Opening for the new ski runs and chairlift at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP).
Eccles wiped away a tear, cracked a joke, then repeated both actions as he stood behind the podium and spoke into the microphone addressing a crowd of approximately 100 in the UOP’s second expansion entitled The Spencer F. Eccles Olympic Mountain Center.
The center boasts a new 4-person high-speed detachable chairlift called Game Changer and two new ski runs complete with snowmaking and lights. The runs are International Ski Federation (FIS) Homologated for moguls, slalom, giant slalom, and even super G competitions.
Eccles got the honor of the first chair, cutting the ribbon up the new lift.
A United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) official training site, this was the vision for the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation (UOLF) since before it hosted the 2002 Olympic Games.
“This is truly a game changer! Working in a collaborative way with key stakeholders, ski clubs, the area’s resorts, local and state government, and many more, we have, together, created a dedicated, one-of-a-kind, athlete-focused facility at Utah Olympic Park,” Hilton said.
Speakers included Colin Hilton, UOLF CEO, Callum Clark, UOLF COO, and Jaime Kimball, UOLF operations director. Also giving praise and thanks at the microphone were project partners, head coach and program director of the University of Utah Alpine Ski Team, the head coach and program director of the Rowmark Ski Academy and the President of the Board of Park City Ski and Snowboard.
Theirs and athletes from the National Ability Center, along with the U.S. Ski Team will be the only skiers on the hills, as it is not open to the public.
Eccles said, “I’m thrilled to be a part of what young people will experience with these extraordinary facilities as they develop their ski racing skills and pursue their dreams … just as I did as a kid. Believe me, back in my day we had nothing like this! It’s going to be incredible!”
Matt Terwillegar, former head coach of US Ski Team ski jumping and longtime programs director for the UOP who will schedule all those racers, was also on hand. So was Olympian ski jumper Alan Alborn, who is credited with doing most of the literal heavy lifting to see this project come to fruition.
Olympic medalist bobsledder Valerie Fleming was there, so was Olympic medalist alpine skier Picabo Street and US Ski Team athlete Heidi Volker. US Ski Team racer Kristi Cummings, credited with getting the first UOP expansion done with its ski runs and chairlift she named Hyeway approximately five years ago, was also there.
Retired U.S. Ski racer Jim Gaddis was there after recently making a significant donation to the Youth Sports Alliance. So was Bruce Erickson, retired US Ski Team Freestyle athlete and coach who will now oversee the lucky lifties who will be charged with keeping the chairs spinning.
Bob Wheaton, former President of Deer Valley and longtime UOLF Board Member came out, so did past and current Salt Lake Olympic Organizer Frasier Bullock. Also present was Carl Roepke who has worked there for 26 years, been friends with Eccles for double that time, and will now incorporate the new area when guiding tours.
The Eccles Foundation donated $5 million to the new venue.
Christie Hind, Executive Director of PCSS was present at the momentous occasion.
Skiers and snowboarders rode the chair up and took the first turns down the new runs.
Organizers hope not only will this boost opportunities for local athletes to compete in future Olympics but that this also will bring Salt Lake City and Park City one step closer in their bid to host the 2030 or 2034 Olympics.