In 2002, the Winter Olympics were hosted in Utah. While they were officially the “Salt Lake City” Olympics, quite a few of the events actually took place in a ski resort town about 30 miles east called Park City.
We headed to Park City at a leisurely pace, and got there around lunchtime. We had lunch at a deli in the “Historic Main Street” area (which is, amazingly, pretty much confined to the one main street), which took way longer than it should have. (Note to self: Don’t get Philly cheesesteaks west of the Mississippi.)
We then made our way over to the Utah Olympic Park. We bought tickets for the 3 pm tour, and had about 45 minutes to kill. We poked around in the 2002 Winter Olympics & Ski Museum. The first floor features mildly informative exhibits (which make a pathetic attempt at being interactive) regarding snow, skiing, famous groundbreaking skiers and snowboarders, etc. The second floor is a tribute to the 2002 games, from the design themes to the athletes and everything in between.
At 3 pm we gathered with our tour group to meet our guide Chris. Imagine a combination of John Malkovich and Ron Howard, and you will have a sense of what he was like. He had a lot of personality and some great stories. He had been in the bobsled track control booth during the 2002 Games, so he had a lot of firsthand experience to share.
The first thing we saw was the pool. Yes, there’s a pool at a ski training center. (BTW, the center is still an active ski school and training center for Olympic athletes from around the world.) The purpose of the pool is to train for the ski jump – skiers actually ski down jumps and do flips into the pool. That might be the only way you could get me on skis…
We then got to see the ski jumps from the actual Olympics – first from the bottom, and later from the top. We hopped on a shuttle bus, which took the road around the bobsled track (which is remarkably long) up to the top of it. We got to see where the luge, skeleton, and bobsled men’s competitions begin their races. We actually got to see a bobsled push off – full of paying tourists rather than training athletes, but still cool.
After the tour, Dave and I decided to do the alpine slide. We took a chair lift up to the top of the mountain, and then waited in line for about 45 minutes to get onto our toboggans. The ride lasted 5 minutes at most. It was pretty fun, but it would have been more fun if there weren’t so much “traffic”. Just before the second-to-last curve – just as we were getting the hang of it – we had to stop because there was a slow person stopped a few toboggans ahead. Oh, well.