Olympic Committee members to visit Salt Lake as city works to bid for games

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the United States Olympic Committee will visit Salt Lake City before Thanksgiving to asses the area’s prospects of hosting a future Winter Games.

Salt Lake, Denver and Reno-Tahoe are competing to be chosen by the USOC to present a bid to the International Olympic Committee.

Members of the Salt Lake Executive Committee for the Games are optimistic about Utah’s chances.

“Everything they are asking for, we know we got it and we are at a very high level,” said Fraser Bullock, the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics.

Local committee members believe Utah already has the venues and infrastructure needed to stage a successful event.

Most of the venues from the 2002 Olympics are still operating and hosting major competitions.

“We are already far ahead in the game when it comes to venues and our ability to host,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski.

The local committee consists of politicians, business leaders and former Olympians and Paralympians.

“Of course I want to see it sooner rather than later,” said Catherine Raney Norman, a speed skater who competed in 2002. “I want it as soon as possible."

“If we can pass it on to the next generation, I want to make sure it’s an experience everybody can have,” said Chris Waddell, a 2002 Paralympian.

The USOC will also evaluate community interest when making their determination. That’s an area that should give Salt Lake an edge.

“The fact that we have 89 percent support here is unprecedented anywhere in the world,” Bullock said.

Former athletes have first-hand knowledge of that support. They remember, with fondness, their memories of competing on the ice and snow of Utah.

“It was the crowd,” Norman said. “Salt Lake was by far, my most favorite Olympics I ever competed in.”

The USOC is expected to announce its decision before the end of the year.

The city that is selected will then begin the long process of presenting a bid to the IOC and that final decision on a host city could be years away.

The Salt Lake committee is working toward hosting the 2030 games, but 2026 and 2034 are outside possibilities.