2034 Winter Games: Will the Olympics Return to Utah?

2034 Winter Games: Will the Olympics Return to Utah?

Tom Kelly

By Tom Kelly \ February 1 2024

The spirit of the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City still resonates across the state. This July, there will be more cause for excitement as it’s anticipated that the International Olympic Committee may name Salt Lake City-Utah as the 2034 host for the Winter Games. To learn more, Last Chair gathered in the Governor’s Mansion to hear from Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, and SLC-UT 2034 Board Chair Catherine Raney Norman.


One of the key assets of Utah’s candidacy is its robust winter environment as home to The Greatest Snow on Earth®. Every venue from 2002, across all sports, has been in continual use. Resorts, including Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort, and Snowbasin Resort, are expected back again.

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Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah is packed for the 2002 Opening Ceremony.


Through its candidacy, Utah has enjoyed strong public support – over 80%! Elected officials from small venue communities, up through the state legislature and governor, have forged a strong partnership to bring the Games back, with the accompanying benefits of bringing communities together.


Both Governor Cox and Mayor Mendenhall have been visionaries who are looking to the benefits to their state and community. Governor Cox grew up on a farm in Fairview, Utah, and talks about the small ski hill near his home. Mayor Mendenhall reflects back on her memories of growing up near Little Cottonwood Canyon and working the switchboard at Snowbird. Both are now outdoor enthusiasts who embody the spirit of the state.

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With a background in air quality and environment advocacy work, the mayor started as an activist and learned quickly that she could be more impactful as an elected official. After six years on the City Council, she ran for mayor and won. She was just inaugurated for a second term. “Being the mayor is just the greatest gig – especially in Salt Lake City in the state of Utah at this time. We have so much good happening. And the Olympics in 2034 is one of those big things.”

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“We get to look beyond and make this Games bigger, better and more athlete-focused than we could have if we weren't all on the same page. What it enables is catalytic for our Games potential, and for the long-term community benefit that will come from it.” - Mayor Erin Mendenhall


Now, in the third year of his first term, Governor Cox has announced he’ll run again in 2024. “It's been a wild ride from the farm to the governor's mansion in Salt Lake City. But we feel very fortunate to be able to serve the state.”


Catherine Raney Norman is a four-time Olympic speed skater who still holds some U.S. records. She grew up in Wisconsin but has long lived in Utah. She and her family are enthusiastic skiers. In her role as board chair, she has brought a distinct athlete vision to her leadership.


 

“I was racing the 5000 meters and I heard the entire crowd start yelling USA! Having your country behind you is pretty incredible.” - SLC-UT Board Chair Catherine Raney Norman

 


Here’s a sampling from a riveting conversation on Last Chair with Utah leaders about the benefits of the Games and how they view the importance to the state and its communities.


Governor Cox, thank you for the invitation to the mansion. Tell us a bit about it.

This is the Kearns mansion – Thomas Kearns was a young man who came out here to seek his fortune. He hit the motherlode – a silver mine in Park City. He came down with his amazing wife, he married a seamstress from Park City, and they built the first orphanage in Utah, which is amazing – St. Ann's orphanage, same architect, beautiful building. Then, he helped build the Cathedral of the Madeleine. They were so generous. This house was built in 1902.

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“You come to Salt Lake City, and the mountains are right there! But it's so much more than that. What I hear all the time is I came to ski. I stayed because of the people. They feel so welcomed. And that's part of why the Olympics were so successful in 2002 and while they'll be successful again.” - Governor Cox


Catherine, you not only competed as an Olympic athlete, but you also rose up early on as a leader amongst your peers.

I've spent a lot of my pre-post and athletic career advocating for athletes across the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and have been so fortunate to stay involved in sport in many different ways, from coaching to administration to fundraising, and to now being able to help serve our community and our people here in Utah as the chair of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games.

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Host of Last Chair Podcast, Tom Kelly, speaks with Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Governor Cox


Mayor, there are 11 Utah ski resorts within an hour’s drive of downtown Salt Lake City. What do you see as the assets of your city as a ski town?

I think it's something you have to experience. People come here to ski, and they end up not leaving. They say, ‘We're going to come spend four months or six months, get some great experience on the mountain, then go back wherever we came from.’ They don't leave. And it's because you can actually call it a ski town. We’re the capital city of the fastest-growing state in the nation, the state has the strongest economy. I'm giving the governor's talking points now, but more than 16 years running, we're doubling our downtown population. We have incredible sports, culture, recreation, and amenities. You can walk out of this Governor's Mansion and be on a foothill trail in the wilderness up in City Creek Canyon, or other places in ten minutes. The proximity to the ski resorts and to year-round recreation is just phenomenal. So we are both an urban capital, a growing city, a strong economy, lots of cultures celebrating our diversity, and a ski town.


Governor, what importance does the Olympic and Paralympic Movement bring to you?

I love the idea of hope at a time when institutions are being torn apart, really important institutions, politically and otherwise, not just here, but all across the world. And as we start to become a little more selfish as human beings and focus internally, this reminds us of the best of us and that there are other people of different backgrounds, and it brings us together. It's one institution that has survived some of the worst parts of history. I just watched Boys in the Boat and the Olympics in Germany at that time and, the impact that those Games had on the world as we were heading into a World War and all of these difficulties that had post 9-11 when Utah was at the forefront. So I love that idea of hope and kind of unifying, bringing people together.


Mayor, how does the city feel about the possibility of another Winter Games to your community?

What we experienced in 2002 is still with us every single day. As Salt Lakers, as Utahns, we have a growing population. We've added 20% more people to Salt Lake City proper since we hosted the Games last, and we still have over 80% support in the state of Utah for hosting a future Games. What that says is that even people who've come here who maybe hadn't been born yet (in 2002) feel and they get the Olympic spirit, it's in our DNA as Utahns. And that ability to bring the global community together – we will ensure that it does have a long-standing daily positive impact for generations to come after 2034.


Governor, how has Utah’s penchant for service and volunteerism helped?

One of the things that Cat, the mayor and I love to talk about is how the volunteers came out of the woodwork for that Olympics the first time – the Olympic movement had never seen anything like that. had to turn volunteers away. It's ingrained in people. We lead the nation in volunteerism and giving back. That combination of us participating together, not just something we watched or saw, but we experienced – that makes a big difference and has really helped us to unify.

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Mayor, you had the honor of dedicating a brand new airport in the past few years?

Our New SLC is one of the busiest airports in the Americas in the Delta system. We have 26 million passengers a year. When this airport is completed, we'll be able to host 34 million passengers a year through Salt Lake City. The amount of direct and connecting flights is ever-increasing, and it's the newest airport in a couple of decades. It's an incredible, beautiful space, and we're proud of it. It's just minutes away from the downtown core. You can walk right out the front doors of the airport, get on a Trax train, and be downtown in less than 20 minutes.

 

Timeline to the Games

 

February 2002 - Salt Lake City plays host to an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

February 2012 - An exploratory committee begins work to look at bringing the Winter Games back to Utah on the 10th anniversary of hosting the 2002 Games

December 2018 - The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee selects Salt Lake City-Utah as America’s Choice for a future Games.

November 2023 - The International Olympic Committee names Salt Lake City-Utah as its Preferred Host for 2034

July 2024 - Anticipated decision by IOC to formally elect hosts for 2030 and 2034

 

Transcript 

 

Tom Kelly: |00:00:00| Welcome everyone to Ski Utah's Last Chair podcast. You know, we've done this podcast over the last five years in some truly remarkable locations. I've done this podcast in a tram hanging above Snowbird. I've done it in a snow cat grooming at night at Deer Valley, in the cab of a UDOT snowplow in Big Cottonwood, and bottom of a 12-foot deep snow pit in Little Cottonwood. Governor Spencer Cox we're in the governor's mansion today. This is much different than what we've done in the past. Tell us about this |00:00:30| great place.


Governor Cox: |00:00:30| Well, those sound much more fun, but we are here in the historic mansion. This is the Kearns mansion. Thomas Kearns was a young man who came out here to seek his fortune. He hit the motherlode—a silver mine in Park City. Came down with his amazing wife… he married a seamstress from Park City and they first built the first orphanage in Utah, which is amazing. St. Ann's orphanage, same architect, beautiful building. Then helped build the Cathedral of the Madeleine. They were so generous. And then they built |00:01:00| their home. I have to say, there's another mansion just one block west of her that looks very similar. People often confuse them. He let his partner build his mansion first because he wanted this one to be a little bigger, but just to wrap it up, um, this house was built in 1902, and, uh, so it's, uh, you know, we're 120 plus years. And they were so generous that after Thomas Kearns, he served in the US Senate, he was good friends with Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt came here, stayed here, |00:01:30| donated … we have a hat rack that Teddy Roosevelt donated, which is amazing. It's made out of the horns of his cattle. So it looks very much like something Teddy Roosevelt, would gift to a family. But after his untimely death, his widow donated this house to the state for governors to live here in, in 1937. Governors lived here for about 20 years. Then they moved out because it got too much to take care of. And we're a fiscally conservative state. But they moved back in in the 70s and, |00:02:00| uh, it kind of restored it a little bit. Of course, we had a fire in 1993 when the Leavitts were here, which helped with the restoration. We were able to restore it almost exactly like it was in 1902. It's a beautiful building. It's not our house, it's the people's house. And we love to share it with people.


Tom Kelly: |00:02:16| Well, thank you, governor. It really is an amazing place. We're here today to talk about the Olympics and our guests, of course, Utah Governor Spencer Cox. We're also joined by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, the recently inaugurated for her second time and also the chair of the board |00:02:30| of the Salt Lake City, Utah committee for the games. Catherine Raney Norman, a four time Olympian. And Catherine, just to update us on the Olympic situation, I know that everybody's been on pins and needles about 2034. It's coming. It's getting closer. Where do we stand in the process right now of bringing the games back here to Utah?


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:02:48| Yeah, we're in we're in the home stretch of bringing the games back. We were recently named the preferred host by the International Olympic Committee for the 2034 games. And so at this point in time, we are just finalizing |00:03:00| up a few pieces. And then we will present to the IOC in July and hopefully be awarded at that time.


Tom Kelly: |00:03:07| Yeah, it's been an amazing process. So, fingers crossed right now. But um, if you were a betting woman, what are the odds you'd give it right now?


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:03:14| Bet on the house.


Tom Kelly: |00:03:15| Bet on the house. Okay. We will. Um, I want to have each of our guests introduce themselves a little bit more. We have a global audience. And, Governor Cox, maybe just a little bit of a 411 on yourself.


Governor Cox: |00:03:26| Well, sure. I'm in my first term as governor. Just actually |00:03:30| just signed up to run for reelection. It's hard to believe it's almost been four years,  just finished our third year. I grew up in a very small town in rural Utah, and, uh, I got a chance to, uh, to to serve as a missionary in Mexico for a couple of years for my church. Came back, married my high school sweetheart. We graduated from Snow College, Utah State University, went to law school in Virginia, back on the East Coast, came back to work for a big law firm, and decided I'm a recovering attorney. Didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. Moved back to the small town |00:04:00| to run the telecommunications company that my great grandfather started and, uh, and to raise my kids on the farm and then got a chance to serve on the city council and as mayor, as county commissioner, then in the legislature, then-Governor Herbert asked me to be his lieutenant governor. And after that, I ran for governor and was successful three years ago. So it's been a wild ride from the farm to the governor's mansion in Salt Lake City. But we feel very fortunate to be able to serve the state.


Tom Kelly: |00:04:23| Help me on this. You used to have a ski area down in Fairview, didn't you?


Governor Cox: |00:04:26| We did indeed. Wow. How did you know that?


Tom Kelly: |00:04:29| I'm |00:04:30| in this business.


Governor Cox: |00:04:32| Wow, almost no one knew that. Yeah. So the Nelson family had a small cabin up Fairview Canyon with a tow rope. Um, it had closed before I was old enough to ski, but my dad skied there as a kid, and, uh. And so it's it's now kind of a natural course. Um, my kids love to snowboard there. And so what you do is the parents park at the bottom of the hill. Then we drive up around, uh, it's called Walker's Run. We let people off and they ride down. We go pick them back up and. You'll |00:05:00| see a line of cars up there probably today. Is it snowing?


Tom Kelly: |00:05:03| That's awesome. Mayor Mendenhall, first of all, congratulations. You're entering your second time right now. The inauguration was just a couple of days ago. A little bit of background on yourself.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:05:13| Thanks for having me on. This is an awesome setting, and I love this conversation. It's my favorite subject to work on, as mayor of Salt Lake City. I'm in the beginning of my second term, started in January of 2020, and served on the city Council in Salt Lake City for six years leading |00:05:30| up to being the mayor. Um, my background is in air quality and environmental advocacy work. I started as an activist and learned pretty quickly that I wanted my voice to go beyond the poster I was holding up outside of whatever building or meeting that might be happening. I wanted to be in the room and changed my course from advocate to co-founding a nonprofit, and eventually running for public office locally. I love this city. I grew up at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. I have three great |00:06:00| kids and went to the University of Utah, studied science and technology there, and being the mayor is just the greatest gig, especially in Salt Lake City in the state of Utah at this time. We have so much good happening in the Olympics in 2034 is one of those big things.


Tom Kelly: |00:06:17| I imagine if you grew up right at the entrance to Little Cottonwood, you probably spent some time up at Alta and Snowbird.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:06:23| I may or may not have compromised my ability to graduate from high school, but I securely did graduate |00:06:30|, and that went well. So, um, the proximity to the ski resorts and the UTA ski bus that could get us there on a really great powder day was one of the best parts of growing up here in the state.


Tom Kelly: |00:06:42| Cool. Catherine, you have quite a background as an athlete for the Olympics. You still hold a share of a national record in speed skating. Give us a little background on yourself.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:06:51| Yeah. So I actually grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was kind of a hotbed for ice sports. Um, I learned to skate in a shopping mall. We |00:07:00| always had ice rinks and shopping malls in the Midwest, and, uh, fell in love with speed skating and had the opportunity to go on and compete in four Olympic Games and actually ended up relocating here to Utah after the 2006 games in Torino, and so spent the remainder of my career here in Utah and have ended up staying here. I've spent a lot of my pre-post and athletic career as an athlete advocate, advocating for athletes across the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and |00:07:30| have been so fortunate to stay involved in sport in many different ways, from coaching to administration to fundraising, and to now being able to help serve our community and our people here in Utah as the chair of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games.


Tom Kelly: |00:07:44| Let's talk a little bit about your role as the board chair. And I know you came on a couple of years ago into that role to bring more of an athletic focus. Talk about your role as the board chair and what you bring with your athletic background to that.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:07:58| Yeah, I think I, I have a |00:08:00| pretty broad perspective, quite honestly. I try to bring the athlete's voice and intention into a lot of the planning and decisions that we're making. But I also try to make sure that we're looking at how we're impacting our communities and the people in Utah. Um, those two go hand in hand in order for us to be successful. And so I feel extremely fortunate to be able to have an understanding of some of the needs that we have within our community and the opportunities that a Games bring to help foster that. And so it's a really interesting blend between |00:08:30| sharing that athlete perspective and that community perspective as well.


Tom Kelly: |00:08:33| I want to have each of you talk a little bit about what the games really mean to our society. And, Catherine, why don't you kick that off? I mean, the games have been around the modern games going back to 1896, the Winter games to 1924. There's something special about it. What do you see that it brings to society as a whole that goes beyond the events we see for 17 days?


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:08:51| Yeah. You know, when I was competing and I get this, I get this question all the time. If you could say one word that symbolizes |00:09:00| the Olympic and Paralympic movement, what would it be? And for me, it's hope. It's always been hope. It's this hope of our world coming together, of people uniting under common good, under sport, of coming together to see great things. And so for me, when I look at these games and all three of us have been together many times and we see this opportunity before us, this hope, these dreams of our athletes, of our youth, of our community. |00:09:30| And this is, um, I think one of the greatest opportunities that we have for us in the next ten years going forward and the legacy that comes afterwards as well.


Tom Kelly: |00:09:40| Piggybacking off that, Governor Cox, you have a great responsibility and overseeing the entire state of Utah. This brings something special, though, doesn't it? Yeah, it.


Governor Cox: |00:09:47| Does, and I can't help but riff off of Hope. I love that, and I'm so glad I'm thinking, what word would I use? And I thought about kind of unity or competition obviously those things. But I love that idea of hope at a time |00:10:00| when institutions are being torn apart, really important institutions, politically and otherwise, not just here, but all across the world. And we as we start to become a little more selfish as human beings and focus internally, this reminds us of the best of us and that there are other people of different backgrounds and it brings us together. And so it's one institution that has survived some of the worst parts of history. I just watched Boys in the Boat and of course the, |00:10:30| you know, the Olympics in Germany at that time and, and the impact that those games had on the world as we were heading into a world war and, and all of these difficulties that have post 9-11 when Utah was at forefront. Right. So I love that idea of hope and kind of unifying, bringing people together.


Tom Kelly: |00:10:47| Mayor Mendenhall, it's an amazing feeling to have the games possibly coming here. What do you see it meaning to the city?


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:10:54| Oh, I love that. What Kat and the governor have just said, and I think I would add community, |00:11:00| because what we experienced in 2002 is still with us every single day. As salt Lakers, as Utahns, we have a growing population. We've added 20% more people to Salt Lake City proper since we hosted the games last, and we still have over 80% support in the state of Utah for hosting a future Games. What that says is that even people who've come here who maybe hadn't been born yet |00:11:30| feel and they get the Olympic spirit, it's in our DNA as Utahns. And that ability to bring the global community together is something that has a long-standing, and we will ensure that it does have a long-standing daily positive impact for generations to come, after 2034.


Tom Kelly: |00:11:50| We're going to come back and talk a little bit more about community and a bit. But because this is a ski podcast, I want to talk about winter sports and skiing. I was actually out at Deer Valley |00:12:00| Resort this morning, and it's great to have all of this accessibility. Mayor Mendenhall, there are 11 resorts within a one hour's drive of where we are right now at the Ggovernor's Mansion. There's 11 resorts. Salt Lake City is really this unique urban center, a really a ski town like no other. How do you see this within your community?


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:12:21| I think it's something you have to experience. And it's part of why we joke that we put something addictive in the water. People come here to ski and they end up not leaving. |00:12:30| They say, we're going to come spend four months or six months, get some great experience on the mountain, then go back wherever we came from. They don't leave. And it's because you can actually call it a ski town. While it once were the capital city of the fastest-growing state in the nation, the states had the strongest economy. I'm giving the governor's talking points now, but more than 16 years running, we're doubling our downtown population. Right now. We have incredible sports, culture, recreation, amenities, and at once |00:13:00| you can walk out of this governor's mansion and be on a foothill trail in wilderness, up in City Creek, Canyon, or other places in ten minutes. Um, the proximity to the ski resorts and to year round summertime recreation is just phenomenal. So we are both an urban capital, growing city, strong economy, lots of cultures celebrating our diversity, and a ski town governor.


Tom Kelly: |00:13:25| The economic impact of the ski industry is really notable here. I think in 2002 we had around |00:13:30| 3 million skier visits, and now that's more than doubled. As governor, how do you look at the importance of the ski industry here in your state?


Governor Cox: |00:13:38| Yeah, well, it's something we take very seriously because it is so critical. Outdoor recreation is about $12 billion to our state. And, and the ski industry is a huge portion of that. So we work very closely with our with our ski partners obviously with Ski Utah. And they're doing tremendous work. I do have to say though, there's a halo effect around |00:14:00| that. It's not just about the number of people that come and ski here. It's all the other things they do. And the feeling they get when they're here. I joke with my friends in Colorado that Salt Lake is what people think Denver's going to be when they get there and realize it's really just Kansas, but, so sorry, Governor Polis, we have an ongoing, back and forth on this, but you come to Salt Lake City, and the mountains are right there. But it's so much more than that. What I hear all the time is I came to ski. I stayed because of the people and |00:14:30| the people here. They feel so welcomed. And that's part of what I think, why the Olympics were so successful in 2002. And while they'll be successful again, I do have to say, just yesterday, though, I'm in a restaurant, the people next to me, we start up a conversation and they're from Michigan. Their daughter's coming out to look at the University of Utah to go to school. I'm like, well, you know why you like, well, it has everything she wants in a school. And the skiing like it was the the skiing that if it didn't have that she wouldn't even be thinking about the University of Utah. And it |00:15:00| was fun. That family's been here a week. They loved it. They're going to come back. It's that's the type of thing that happens over and over again.


Tom Kelly: |00:15:07| From a development perspective, you'd have to go back quite a few decades to find another new ski resort of major proportions that was built in America. There's now one under construction here in Utah, adjoining Deer Valley. The economic climate and the different programs that have been put in place in the state have really made that possible. Yeah, yeah.


Governor Cox: |00:15:28| We've seen that here. |00:15:30| Um, again, as you mentioned, that, you know, those are those are major New York investors who were interested in doing something here in the state of Utah that speaks to, as Mayor Mendenhall mentioned, the growth of our economy. And I just have to say, though, there is a direct line that goes back to the Olympics in 2002. If you look, we were not the best economy in the nation. We were not the fastest-growing state in the nation. We were not all of these positive accolades until 2002 happens. Then the trajectory changes. The world |00:16:00| sees us differently, and I think we see ourselves differently. And that's really important to we kind of grew up when we realized, oh, we can do this on the world stage, but on the best games ever. And then that leads us again to having the Olympics coming back. We know we can do this, which is more fun this time because we we weren't sure last time, but this time we're sure. And it's going to be the next best Games ever.


Tom Kelly: |00:16:22| I'm curious, governor, as you go around the world on trade missions, you're talking to people from around the globe, do the Olympics come up? Is that still a recognition point for |00:16:30| the state?


Governor Cox: |00:16:30| Yeah, it absolutely is. The Olympics and skiing. Those are the two things that come up and the Jazz, I guess three things that come up the most often. I will tell you, I was just down in Mexico. We were talking with Idaho, Mexico and Delta, new flights, direct flights coming from Mexico. And one of the things they were most excited about are the ski trips from, from people in Mexico who want to come ski here. They've been skiing in Canada or Colorado. They're excited to come here and they talk about the Olympics every time.


Tom Kelly: |00:16:57| We've had very strong public opinion |00:17:00| ratings here, which is frankly been unusual for Olympic cities. Uh, what do you attribute that to, governor? It's been really off the charts over 80%.


Governor Cox: |00:17:09| Yeah, it has been off the charts. I attribute it again to the people and the way it all came together. One of the things that that we love to talk about, both Cat and the mayor and I, um, the volunteers that came out of the woodwork for that Olympics the first time the, the Olympic movement had never seen anything like that, had to turn volunteers away. I want to say there |00:17:30| was like 60,000 volunteers, something like that. It was a huge, huge number. And so it's ingrained in people. We lead the nation in volunteerism anyway and giving back and service and all of those things. But that combination of us participating together, not just something we watched or saw, but we experienced, um, I think that makes a big difference and has really helped us to unify and remember. And now we pass those on, as the mayor said, you know, I talk |00:18:00| to my kids about the Olympics all the time. My kids were too young. We had two babies when the Olympics were here the first time. And, uh, and now they're so excited that they're going to experience it as well.


Tom Kelly: |00:18:09| Yeah, it really is. It's a great generational experience that I know a lot of Utahns want to pass on to their kids. Um, mayor, we talked earlier about the impact on community. And I know this is a very big focus for you. How can the games help to provide a platform for community causes that are so important to your city?


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:18:28| I think I'll jump off from |00:18:30| where the governor just mentioned a few really important things, which is kind of the vibe of Salt Lakers and Utahns. We do show up as volunteers more than any other population in the nation. But it also, I mean, we show up and we're friendly. It's a very welcoming atmosphere. And I think one of the ways that Salt Lake City has changed in the last 20 years is absolutely our population growth, but our celebration of the diversity that lives here. Our school district speaks more than 100 languages |00:19:00| just right here in Salt Lake City. You get this feeling of inclusivity in the celebration. Of our differences just by showing up to spend a weekend skiing here, coming downtown, walking around. We're different. It's changed us. And I think that we were well poised before the 2002 games. We didn't maybe quite know it about ourselves. As the governor mentioned, we didn't know if we could pull it off, but oh my gosh, our culture here really does thrive when we welcome others. And |00:19:30| I think leveling up to the 2034 Games, because we already have so much of the infrastructure in place, we that's one of our best selling points as a bid group here that we don't have to build very much, but we should build better for the games we are growing. We're going to do big things in this downtown, from open space, creation, places for gathering and thriving. What our Medals Plaza will be. These are big questions that will level up generations and decades to come in this city. And |00:20:00| it's an exciting opportunity that I think we're already poised to embrace.


Tom Kelly: |00:20:04| The Olympics and the Paralympics are big global events. They capture the attention of the entire planet. How can you harness that stage to take your community causes that might or might not be related to the games, but to use that stage of the games to gain awareness and build advocacy for causes important to the city.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:20:23| One of those is housing, for sure. Diversified housing types, not just single-family homes, |00:20:30| not only single bedroom or studio units, family-sized units in our downtown core. And although we have an Olympic Village in the University of Utah that has the capacity to host the games in 2034, we know we're going to be building. And the way that we accommodate the guests who will come and that those who do the supportive infrastructure, tens of thousands of people are going to come in here, um, where they stay and the kind of places that are attractive and actually even recruit the next generation |00:21:00| of Salt Lakers and Utahns who don't necessarily see themselves here yet in 2035, but will be here. That kind of housing investment is absolutely looking at Salt Lake City right now in our surrounding areas, because they know big things like the 2034 Games are coming, the ripple of effects on the rest of the housing market, from the increase in the diversified stock and the sheer volume of housing that will come online, is something we sorely and desperately need in Salt Lake City, but also throughout the |00:21:30| state. We welcome this.


Tom Kelly: |00:21:32| We're going to take a short break, and when we come back, we'll talk more about the Olympic and the Paralympic Winter Games, hopefully coming in 2034. We'll be right back on Ski Utah's Last Chair podcast. 


Tom Kelly: We're back on Last Chair, the Ski Utah podcast. Today, we're talking about the hopeful return of the Olympic and the Paralympic Winter Games in 2034. Catherine Raney Norman, the board chair for the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee |00:22:00| for the Games. You talked earlier about how we hope to know in July give us a little sense of the selection process itself. And I know that right now we're a preferred host for 2034. What does that mean? Are we in this thing alone now and where is it going to head.



Catherine Raney Norman: |00:23:17| I mean, I think there's always an opportunity to look at what other cities have done and how they have put on a Games. I think one of the learning lessons out of Beijing and Tokyo was how important it is to use technology |00:23:30| to connect people back together when they couldn't be in attendance at those games. I think that's a learning lesson for us. When we host a Games in ‘34, how do we connect the rest of the world? They might not be here in Salt Lake City or in Utah, but how are we connecting them into the games and allowing them to experience it? So as we look at hosts who have held the games in the past and then how we're going to operationalize in the future, I think it's really important that we take best practices from what they have seen. I think it's important for us to work with the International Olympic Committee, our International |00:24:00| federations. Sport is changing. Since 2002, we have seen a 40% increase in the Olympic program alone. Sport is going to continue to change, and so we have to make sure that we are prepared to host and provide a world-class environment for optimal performance for the athletes, but also for the stakeholders who are coming in as.


Tom Kelly: |00:24:21| A bid committee. You have been very engaged with elected officials in each of the host venue communities and also in the state. How important has that been? And then we're |00:24:30| going to go to the mayor and the governor to get a little bit more insight on how all of us can work together here in Utah to bring a successful games to the people.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:24:38| I think it's absolutely vital that we work with our elected officials and our community members. Um, I, I always go back to and think about it was the people of Utah that put us on this path. The people of Utah stepped up in 2002 and said, we're going to support these games, and that's why we're here now. And so we should |00:25:00| never forget that part. And so working together with our elected officials, understanding what those core priorities are and making sure and people hear me say this over and over, and I will continue to do it for the next ten years, that we're intentional in our process and our delivery of these games. Our buildings are built, the lights are going to be on, the buses are going to run. We're going to do great. We're we're well prepared, as you've heard from from the governor and mayor. But for us to be intentional |00:25:30| is where we are going to see lasting impact on our youth and on our communities, on our small business owners, how we move about our city. This is absolutely critical and is probably more important than what we're going to see when people reach the podium, quite honestly. So for me, that is a cornerstone and pillar of how I approach the delivery of these games going forward. And that's.


Tom Kelly: |00:25:54| Really an incremental bump from what was done in 2002.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:25:59| Right? |00:26:00| You know, 2000 again, we were new. We were doing it for the first time, right? And we were welcoming the world. And we have done such an excellent job over the last 20-plus years of continuing to invest in our venues, invest in our people, invest in our sport leaders. And so we have the expertise, we have the know how, we have the venues. But that incremental impact, that intentionality is where we're going to have the difference.


Tom Kelly: |00:26:26| Governor Cox, uh, you and the state legislature as well |00:26:30| have had a strong relationship with the bid. How do you see the groups working together as we move forward to 2034?


Governor Cox: |00:26:37| Yeah, we'll continue to work very closely together. That's part of the bid process, is being able to explain to the IOC that you do have the political support as well as the public support and the financial support, right? And all of those other things. And so to have a unified, uh, Republicans, Democrats in the legislature, uh, |00:27:00| unanimously support the and by the way, we have to not just endorse, but we actually have to sign on the dotted line. Right. And so there's a there's a fiscal component to this. It won't cost taxpayers anything if we do our jobs. Right. And that's that's really important. But we have to backstop that as well. And so you've got a Republican governor, a supermajority Republican legislature, you've got a Democratic mayor of Salt Lake. We've got other elected officials throughout the state. And by the way, I like to remind people we're not just |00:27:30| representing the state of Utah. We're representing the United States of America to the world. So that also means we have to get the blessing of the president of the United States, which we have done and worked very closely with him at Democrat as well. And so, again, I think this speaks to to the power of the Olympic movement, to the power of sport, to the power of bringing people together at a time when we're deeply polarized. We're not polarized about this. And I'm very proud of the way we've been able to work together.


Tom Kelly: |00:27:56| Mayor Mendenhall, you came into your role as mayor shortly after |00:28:00| the Salt Lake City, Utah bid was named America's Choice, and you've actively embraced it. How do you see the city working with the organizing committee as we move out to 2034.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:28:11| In two distinct ways? I think what you've just heard cannot be understated. We stand out world over for the degree of support, the unanimous support from our governor and legislature, the unanimous support from every host city that will |00:28:30| be involved in the games. This is incredibly unique and what it allows us to do, because we don't have to squabble on a daily basis about trying to get support and keep the support. We get to look beyond and make this Games bigger and better and more athlete-focused than we could have if we weren't all on the same page. What it enables is catalytic for our Games potential, and for the long-term community benefit that will come from |00:29:00| it. So, even as Salt Lakers and Utahns, I think we shouldn't take for granted how incredible it is that we're all on the same page because of what it's going to unlock for the 2034 games and our benefits beyond that, working with these partners, acknowledging that we don't have any critical venues that we don't already have, meaning everything's in place. What I'm excited about is what we can accomplish together. I hope we don't see another temporary metals plaza that becomes a parking |00:29:30| lot after the games. I hope to work with these partners and find ways that through the city's investments in the parks, we want to create downtown. And these partnerships, we find ways that build the legacy of the games, both 2002 and 2034 into the next 100 years of our city and state's history, and cement that legacy visibly and in a positive way for our residents for decades to come.


Tom Kelly: |00:29:56| Mayor, A few years ago, in the middle of a pandemic, you dedicated an amazing |00:30:00| new airport. Tell us a little bit about the Salt Lake City International Airport, and how this will be another great asset for the state as we head to the games.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:30:09| Yes, our new SLC is one of the busiest airports in the Americas. In the Delta system, 70% of the flights are Delta flights. Coming out of there. We have 26 million passengers a year, and when this airport is completed, we'll be able to host 34 million passengers a year through Salt Lake City. The |00:30:30| amount of direct and connecting flights is ever-increasing, and it's the newest airport in a couple of decades. It's the newest airport since, uh, 911. And that has all the security built in from the beginning, not retrofitted and wedged in there. It's an incredible, beautiful space and we're proud of it. It's just minutes away from the downtown core. You can walk right out the front doors of the airport, get on a Trax train, and be downtown in less than 20 minutes. |00:31:00| So our proximity begins. As soon as you enter the Airshed in an airplane, you're going to see not only the ski resorts, the downtown core, and you're going to land at an airport that is going to get you there in just a few minutes.


Tom Kelly: |00:31:12| Governor Cox, the airport has been a real calling card for the entire state, hasn't it?


Governor Cox: |00:31:16| It has. It's made a huge difference as I hear from people again that come all the time, they can't believe we have this beautiful airport and the way it was done aesthetically to highlight, you know, you can see out that big window, you can see the mountains |00:31:30| people feel even if they're just passing through, you know, on a layover, they feel like they've got a taste of Utah and they can't wait to come back.


Tom Kelly: |00:31:37| Let's have each of you look into your crystal ball as we kind of wrap things up here Governor Cox, if you looked into the crystal ball today, what do you want to see from 2034 for the state?


Governor Cox: |00:31:48| Yeah. So the mayor touched on this a little bit and Catherine as well because we have the the infrastructure for the games I want us to dream big. I |00:32:00| want us to really get together, understand at a local community perspective, at a state perspective with, you know, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who owns a lot of property around Temple Square. Our transportation officials like, what do we want Utah to look like in 2034? Not just what do the games look like, but this can be we always need goals and catalysts, and we have ten years to do something really amazing. And I would just as as a side, I also want to set us up |00:32:30| so that we're we're doing this every, you know, 20 years or so. I want to get on the I think the IOC is looking at the possibility of a rotation that we become the North American stop for the Winter Games. Moving on to the future. It makes sense. Mayor?


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:32:44| I love it. And I can't wait to work with the governor and Cat and all of our partners. This opportunity is we've never seen it before in our history |00:33:00| as a state. We're hosting a birthday here very soon, and this is unmatched. I think about our grand boulevards. I think about Fifth and Sixth South as you come in from the airport and drop into the downtown core. Those are areas that we've long dreamed of improving in a dramatic way. I think about the green loop that I hope will encircle downtown with five and a half miles of linear park in what is right now really wide streets in portions of Salt Lake City. |00:33:30| I want to see a promenade that's for pedestrians along Main Street from South Temple to Fourth South, where we can have festivals and celebrations and restaurants and bars can spill out into that public space all of the time. I want to see a vibrant downtown that's truly 18 hours, that has not only 10,000 people that will reach next year, but many more thousand beyond that. And I think that and so much more is actually within our reach. It's not because of the games, but with the Games, we can build these |00:34:00| things.


Tom Kelly: |00:34:00| Man, I'm getting excited now. Catherine, your crystal ball.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:34:04| You know, I hope that, uh, the people of Salt Lake, the people of Utah, that everyone can see that they have a place in this. And whether that is, you know, the young youth athlete who, you know, maybe didn't believe in themselves and, and saw somebody like a Derek Parra who had a similar upbringing to them. Um, or it's a young youth athlete that, |00:34:30| that saw somebody like Chris Waddell, who has broken down so many barriers of sport, being a champion in Paralympics. Um, or it's our small business owners, you know, this is an opportunity for them, a truly once in a lifetime opportunity for them, for economic mobility. Um, so making sure and, and my hope is that people feel that they can be a part of this, that they have a place, that they have a sense of belonging in this effort.


Tom Kelly: |00:34:59| I thank you all |00:35:00| for participating. We're going to close it out right now with our fresh track section. This is a little bit of a lightning round, so we're just looking for short and sweet answers. And the first one is to each of you a favorite Olympic or Paralympic memory. I mean that could be when you were a child. It could be from 2002 or whenever. Governor, do you have one of those?


Governor Cox: |00:35:18| Yeah, it would have to be from 2002. We just moved back here, and we couldn't afford to go to any of the events at the time, but it was just my wife and I walking downtown and just soaking it all in, seeing those giant banners hanging from all the |00:35:30| buildings, hearing all the different languages around us, and just feeling like, I can't believe this is happening here in our state. It's a great memory.


Tom Kelly: |00:35:36| Mayor.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:35:37| You know, very similar. I was a newlywed. Third Avenue and H Street walk downtown because that's what we could afford to do. Met people, met athletes, which was mind-blowing at the time. You're just here on our streets. And it was, uh, a magical experience to just be there as a salt Laker with the rest of the world celebrating this space. |00:36:00|


Governor Cox: |00:36:00| Great. And can I just say that Catherine's memories are going to be way better than ours?


Tom Kelly: |00:36:05| No, no, these are really kind of emotional.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:36:07| I mean, I, I remember 1994 watching Johann Olav Koss skating in the Viking ship in Norway, and the entire country rallying behind him. And then I can relate to my own personal experience in 2002. And I was racing the 5000 meters and I was behind my pair, and all of a sudden I started |00:36:30| chasing her down and I heard the entire crowd start yelling USA for two and a half laps, and I drag raced her to the finish and I beat her, and I was like, this was unlike Holy cow, what just happened? It was amazing, right? Um, and so having the people behind you. Having your country behind you is pretty incredible.


Tom Kelly: |00:36:55| Just a quick spin-off of that as you travel the world as a USA athlete. Foreign |00:37:00| fans like to get behind Americans.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:37:03| They do. I think we're gritty, you know, we're gritty and, uh, we we just people like people like to get behind us especially, you know, winter sport. We're at times the underdogs up against the big Nordic nations. And so when you see an American and you see, you know, somebody like Steve Nyman who crosses the line and all of a sudden now he's wearing his Levi's American flag, you know, jean jacket. Uh, it's |00:37:30| something that you can get behind, that's for sure.


Tom Kelly: |00:37:32| This is pretty cool. Let's take it back home here. And just a favorite place that you or your family likes to ski, likes to hike or whatever outdoor activity. Catherine.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:37:43| So we are a die-hard snowbird family. Uh, my husband is a die-hard skier. Has skied every month for about the last 20 years. Actually 30 turns requirement. And so we are die-hard Snowbird. And then we follow up with Gold Miners Daughter.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:38:05| I grew up at the mouth of Little Cottonwood, and I love Alta through and through. And even in the summertime, it's just one of the best places to take kids and let them wander while you slowly head up to Secret Lake.


Tom Kelly: |00:38:18| You worked at Snowbird, right?


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:38:20| I worked at Snowbird. I worked in a windowless room that no longer is the switchboard. But I know you can call 801 933 2222.


Tom Kelly: |00:38:29| And then what would you |00:38:30| say to all of the guests?


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:38:31| Thank you for calling Snowbird. How may I direct your call?


Tom Kelly:  |00:38:34| Love it. Governor, favorite spot for you or your family to recreate?


Governor Cox: |00:38:38| Yeah, I was going to I was going to talk about Walker's run, but we already did that. So for us, uh, Sundance was the was the closest ski resort. And so we, um, we would take the kids up to Sundance a couple of times every year. And that was that was our that was our resort of choice.


Tom Kelly: |00:38:54| Beautiful. How about a favorite ski town restaurant? A ski town can be Salt Lake, or |00:39:00| it can be Alta, or it can be Park City governor.


Governor Cox: |00:39:03| Uh, well, I'm going to have to go. Well, I already mentioned Sundance. The restaurants at Sundance are amazing, the tree room. But I do have to give a shout out to our good friends, Jeff and Lisa Ward at Silver Star Cafe in Park City, one of our favorites. We actually met them on a beach in Hawaii. Uh, we were vacationing, and they were vacationing. We got to know them. We came back, went to their restaurant, just fell in love with, uh, Silver Star Cafe. It's a great place.


Tom Kelly: |00:39:24| It's a great spot. It's particularly a cool spot in the summertime. It is? Yeah.


Governor Cox: |00:39:28| Right over the golf course there. |00:39:30| Beautiful mayor.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:39:31| High West in Park City.


Tom Kelly: |00:39:32| Love it. What's your favorite High West whiskey?


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:39:35| Uh. Double rye. Okay.


Tom Kelly: |00:39:36| Very good, Campfire for me. Um, Catherine.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:39:39| I said Gold Miner's Daughter, but, uh, an alternative. I mean, you can't go wrong with the Deer Valley chili and the giant cookies, right? Like, those are pretty fantastic. Every time. All the food at Deer Valley. But, you know, the traditional staple of the chili and a giant chocolate chip cookie.


Tom Kelly: |00:39:59| You can't beat it. No. |00:40:00| I have to say, though, one of my favorite inclusions in a press conference ever was when Alterra acquired Deer Valley Resort. One of the talking points for the press conference was that Deer Valley chili will remain. It's that good.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:40:15| It's a legend. It's legendary. It might be up there with green Jell-O.


Tom Kelly: |00:40:23| Close. We'll save that one. Okay, last, last question. This is a tough one. I want one word. One word that describes Utah |00:40:30| and the games. Catherine.


Catherine Raney Norman: |00:40:34| I'm going to just stick with my hope.


Tom Kelly: |00:40:36| Okay. Hope is good. We talked about that earlier, mayor.


Mayor Mendenhall: |00:40:41| This is cheesy, but I think it's love. We love the outdoors.


Tom Kelly: |00:40:46| It's good. Governor -- last word.


Governor Cox: |00:40:48| And I'm going to say unifying. That's what Utah does best. It's what the Olympics do best.


Tom Kelly: |00:40:54| Governor Cox, Mayor Mendenhall Catherine Raney Norman, the board chair for the Games coming in 2034. |00:41:00| We thank you all for your enthusiastic support, and we look forward to the pathway ahead. Thanks for joining us on Last Chair.

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