I finally took the time to visit this small little memorial to a fantastic 17 Olympic days. In the winter of 2002, a short 5 months after the shock of the September 11 attacks the world turned its eyes to Utah. The Olympic torch relay visited each one of the states and seemed to bring a healing spirit.
In the Opening Ceremonies, conducted at the Rice-Eccles Stadium where the torch still stands, one of the most touching moments was when the flag from the World Trade towers, ripped and ragged, made an entrance.
It was the first time the Winter Olympics were in the US since the "Miracle on Ice" happened, when the amateur USA team beat the Russians in Lake Placid. The entire US hockey team joined together to light the torch in 2002.
The memory of those events and all the olympic sports that followed are still vivid for those of us who shared in the joy. Some volunteered and wear with pride the coats they were presented, we gathered each night downtown for the medals ceremony, our buildings were festooned with banners, the torch shown outside the stadium, and the olympic rings lit up the hills.
Our family was able to attend several pre-olympic trials including the speed skating and a short track skating event. Though we weren't able to get tickets to the Olympic events we were able to see the same athletes that participated later in much more relaxed setting. We were instant fans of short track and learned early why that was one event to watch.
We were lucky enough to attend the half pipe snowboarding which was an all day event as we saw both the qualifying and final runs. All I can say is it was much much better in person. It was an American sweep of the medals which was so nice.
And we were there for the marathon cross country race at Soldier Hollow. Where the flags of all the nations participating flew and the blue sky day was a gorgeous finale to the Olympic spectacle.
All of this is touched on at the plaza. The torch still stands, the arch where the medals were presented is there now as well. Along the fence the events of each of the days are recalled, at the torch pool the winners of the each event are listed. Inside there is a short movie in the theater and a few others in the museum. One of the hundreds of torches is on display, there are pictures capturing the spirit of the olympics.
It is all free, so little to show the world what a fantastic couple of weeks it was. Time has moved on, new records have been set, new champions crowned, but what happened to Salt Lake was a fundamental shift, a kind of growing up.
Most of the venues are still in use. You can skate on the oval in Kearns, or slide down the bobsled run in Park City. Olympians still train on the ski jumps. Snowbasin's ski runs are still as perilous, and the cross country skiing at Soldier Hollow is still offered.
I spent about an hour, briefly reminiscing, marveling that it still had power to move me.
This is located in The Gateway shopping mall. It is a lovely square that has a water play area for the children, but it is dedicated to the hard work of all the women and men who made many contributions for the 2002 Winter Olympics. There is this stunning wall covered in plaques and monuments. When your here, please make the time to see it.
Salt Lake City was the host for the Winter Olympics. You can see where and why they made improvements as far as trasportation, hotel and shopping availability. I enjoyed seeing many of the statues and dedicatiions they did in honor of the Olympic games. This sculpture is located in The Gateway, Olympic Legacy Plaza.
You can see the actual Olympic park:
Utah Olympic Park
3419 Olympic Parkway
P.O. Box 980337
Park City, UT 84098-0337
Hours of Operation
9:00am - 6:00pm Sunday-Thursday. 9:00am - 8:00pm Friday & Saturday
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day and Easter.
The Utah Olympic Park is accessible eastbound and westbound from I-80, about 28 miles east of downtown Salt Lake City. Take Exit 145 (Kimball Junction) onto Highway 224 going south toward Park City. At the second traffic light, take right turn onto Olympic Parkway on the west side of Highway 224. Drive about one mile up the road to the entrance and visitor parking.
We only got to see the 2002 Winter Olympics on TV. Bob was recovering from his heart attack, and it was an interesting thing to watch at that time.
08 February 2002 (the day that Bob had his angioplasty)
24 February 2002
Country of the host city:
United States of America (USA)
Östersund (SWE), Quebec (CAN) and Sion (SUI)
Summary of the games from the Olympics website:
The Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games saw the expansion of the Olympic programme to 78 events, including the return of skeleton and the introduction of women's bobsleigh. Athletes from a record 18 nations earned gold medals. Canadian teams won both the men's and women's ice hockey tournaments. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen earned gold medals in all four biathlon events and Samppa Lajunen in all three Nordic combined competitions. Alpine skier Janica Kostelic won three gold medals and one silver. Simon Ammann scored unexpected victories in both individual ski jump events. Speedskater Claudia Pechstein earned her third straight gold medal in the 5,000m race and also won at 3,000m. By taking the silver medal in singles luge, Georg Hackl became the first person in Olympic history to earn a medal in the same individual event five times in a row. Short track speedskater Yang Yang (A) became the first Chinese athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Games. Competing in the women’s bobsleigh, Vonetta Flowers became the first black athlete to earn winter gold, while ice hockey player Jarome Iginla followed as the first black male winner.
77 National Olympic Committees (Nations)
2,399 athletes (886 women, 1,513 men)
8,730 media (2,661 written press, 6,069 broadcasters)
The Women's Moguls Event was held at Deer Valley during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The day was perfect - near zero degrees Fahrenheit temperature with new snow. Couldn't ask for more when it comes to skiing the bumps!
A fine landing! This jumper got quite a bit of distance. Many of the jumpers were not landing beyond the markings, but the leaders were all landing where this jumper landed.
It could not have been a better day for this event. We had clear blue sky, and it was not as cold as the day before at the Women's Moguls event.
For the Men's Ski Jumping, we did not buy seats in the stands, but stood in the spectator section at the bottom of the jump. That is the way to view this event - we would have been too far away had we been in the stands.
I'm sorry - this photo just does not do the event justice. This is a photo of a ski jumper during the 90 meters Ski Jumping event on Feb. 10, 2002. This skiier was FLYING! Simon Ammann of Switzerland took the gold and he was AMAZING!!
Also amazing were the other medalists - Sven Hannawald of Germany took the Silver,and Adam Malysz of Poland took the Bronze.
Here is another shot of a ski jumper in mid-air at the Men's 90 Meter Ski Jumping event. Hard to see, but he's there.
The venue for this event was The Canyons, near Park City. Times have changed. When I was in college, this was Park West and was known as a cheap favorite of the locals. We used to come up on the weekends and ski here for $11 a day, or we would be assigned some volunteer job and ski for free.
Now the resort has been upgraded and expanded, a gondola and high speed chairs have been added, and a European-like town with a pricey lodge has been built at the bottom of the lifts.
I hope this photo can give you an idea of how spectacular the ski jumping event was. I was in awe of these atheletes. And if I had a $10,000 camera, I could bring you the full flavor of the event. But, my much cheaper camera will have to do.
There are pleny of leftover memorabilia from the 2002 Olympics here. We found this stadium on the University Campus.
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