RELIVE THE GLORY OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES
These venues and attractions from the 2002 Winter Olympics Games range from quick stop-ins to all-day adventures, and offer plenty of entertaining ways to spend an evening or recovery day—as well as the opportunity to challenge yourself on actual Olympic terrain.
UTAH OLYMPIC PARK
The host venue of the ski jumping, bobsled, and luge events—as well as the first Olympic skeleton competition since 1948—the Utah Olympic Park still serves as a training ground for current and prospective Olympians. Visitors can get a thrilling taste of speed and G-forces while riding along as a passenger on a professionally piloted bobsled, reaching speeds up to 80mph. Make sure to do your neck stretches.Less-intense activity options include exploring the Alf Engen Ski Museum and 2002 Winter Olympics Museum to brush up on your winter sports history, and guided tours of the park where you’ll still get to check out the sliding track and stand at the top of the biggest Nordic ski jump. Viewing the steep, narrow, solid-ice tracks in person is sure to give you a new level of appreciation for the athletes brave enough to plunge down them.In addition to the sliding track and Nordic jumps, the Utah Olympic Park also features training facilities for moguls, freestyle aerials, and a terrain park and boarder-cross course where visitors are free to watch everyone from young kids in development programs to the next generation of Olympic athletes honing their skills.
The crowds at Snowbasin Resort witnessed the downhill, combined, and super-G events, the latter two of which were won by Norwegian Kjetil André Aamodt on his way to becoming the most decorated Olympic alpine skier of all time. Croatia’s Janica Kostelić also jump-started her triple-gold 2002 performance with a victory in women’s combined. And of course, the legend of Bode Miller began with his improbable come-from-behind silver-medal performance despite sitting in 15th place after the downhill portion of the men’s combined. Advanced skiers looking to experience Olympic steepness and over 2,600 feet of vertical drop can ride the Mt. Allen tram from the top of John Paul Express to the start points of both the men’s and women’s downhill courses. Both are challenging, but the men’s start is especially difficult, with extremely steep fall lines and lots of moguls. The runs intersect near the top of John Paul lift and continue onto the trail of the same name, where you can then branch off onto either the Grizzly (men’s) or Wildflower (women’s) downhill courses.
ENERGY SOLUTIONS ARENA
Home of the Utah Jazz and frequent host to national concert tours, Energy Solutions Arena was dubbed the Salt Lake Ice Center during the 2002 Olympics and served as the venue for the figure-skating and short-track speed-skating competitions. This is where Apolo Ohno became the face of USA short-track after winning his first gold medal in the 1500m, and where American underdog Sarah Hughes took home the women’s figure-skating gold after heavily favored Michele Kwan’s heartbreaking fall during her long program.
UTAH OLYMPIC OVAL
The Utah Olympic Oval is home to the “Fastest Ice on Earth,” a reference to the eight world records and 10 Olympic records (in 10 events) set on its ice during the speed-skating competitions at the 2002 Winter Games. The Oval’s high elevation leads to decreased air resistance, and the associated lower oxygen content of the ice results in a harder, faster surface perfectly suited to shattering records. Thirty-three miles of freeze tubes beneath the 400m skating track (which also surrounds two international-sized hockey ice sheets) keep the ice at the ideal temperature year-round.Public ice time and skate rentals are offered on most days for those who want a chance to get on Olympic ice, including the Saturday-night Cosmic Skate—a black-lit affair involving lasers, a live DJ, and Utah’s largest disco ball. Instruction in speed skating, hockey, and figure skating are also available, and you can even try your hand at learning to curl with the very same stones used in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT
The 2002 Olympics’ giant-slalom event took place on CB’s Run at Park City resort, where Austrian Stephan Eberharter became (at the time) the oldest man to win an Olympic alpine event, a month before his 33rd birthday. American ski-racing rockstar Bode Miller also wrapped up his first Olympics with a second silver medal—for the authentic Bode experience, wake up hung over and then spend two hours at any resort-village bar before you ride up the Eagle lift and rocket down CB’s.Park City also hosted the snowboard halfpipe event that saw USA riders Ross Powers, Danny Kass, and JJ Thomas sweep the podium in the men’s competition, as well as Kelly Clark bringing home the gold in the women’s event. The tricks you see in snowboard contests have certainly progressed since 2002, but the 22-foot superpipe located off the Three Kings chair is still just as big, fast, and intimidating.
The stunning Olympic Tower blown-glass sculpture created for the Olympic Arts Festival by artist Dale Chihuly now resides in the lobby of downtown Salt Lake’s Abravanel Hall, the home of the Utah Symphony for the past 35 years. Featuring over 1,000 individual pieces of glass and standing at over 30 feet tall, the sculpture fits right in with Abravanel Hall’s exquisite architecture and decor, as well as its precision-engineered acoustics that provide concert patrons with a truly transcendent listening experience.
Deer Valley hosted nearly 100,000 total spectators during the slalom, aerials, and moguls events of the 2002 Winter Games. The abundance of highlights included the USA bringing home four silver medals in both men’s and women’s moguls and aerials, and Australian long-shot Alissa Camplin winning the women’s aerials gold while somehow skiing on two fractured ankles from an injury sustained during training.If you’re looking to see how you stack up to world-class athletes on the same terrain, ride up the Carpenter Express lift and practice your slalom turns on Know You Don’t, or head slightly skier’s right and test your leg strength on the bumps coming down Champion. (Air-averse skiers need not worry, the huge kickers are only built up during freestyle competitions.)
The primary venue for the hockey tournaments at the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Maverik Center has an interesting bit of Olympic history: while preparing the arena for the Games, an ice technician from Edmonton hid his lucky loonie—a Canadian one-dollar coin—beneath center ice, hoping to bring some good fortune to his home country. It must have worked—both the men’s and women’s Canadian hockey teams took home gold medals in 2002 (with the men’s team ending a 50-year gold-medal drought), and the coin now rests in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nowadays, the Maverik Center is the home of the Grizzlies, Utah’s ECHL hockey team, and also presents a variety of shows and concerts year-round.
Built specifically for the cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Soldier Hollow in Wasatch Mountain State Park was the site of Ole Einar Bjorndalen’s historically dominant sweep of all three individual biathlon golds, as well as the team relay competition in which he held down the crucial final leg for the gold-medal-winning Norway squad. Today, Soldier Hollow offers cross-country skiing trails and instruction for all abilities from novice to Olympian, in addition to snowshoeing and lift-serviced tubing with 1,200-foot sliding lanes—the longest anywhere in Utah.
Words: TJ Parsons