The 2002 Olympics transformed Salt Lake City and its neighboring venue communities into a stage that welcomed the world. For 17 days, the Games captivated spectators and television viewers as athletes dazzled fans and shed tears of joy. The Games also brought a richness to Utah communities that is very much still alive today.
Salt Lake City 2002 leaders Fraser Bullock and Mitt Romney take the stage at a 10-year reunion party for volunteers in 2012. (Jeffrey Allred/Deseret News)
When now Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who headed the 2002 organizing committee, needed a right hand man, he tabbed his colleague Fraser Bullock for the job. It was a crazy adventure managing thousands of staff, tens of thousands of volunteers and global entourages of teams across more than a dozen sports.
In this episode of Last Chair, we reminisce on 2002 memories and look into the future with Salt Lake City-Utah already America’s Choice.
Before we get into the Olympics, let’s talk skiing.
My favorite sport is being on top of a mountain, looking at the beautiful views and just letting it fly down the slope. Doesn't get any better than that.
What was the key to assembling a strong team to run the 2002 Games?
When I first started, the team was 225 people and there were some really, really capable people that were there already. But we needed to grow to 50,000 at Games time, including volunteers and contractors. One of the things that I have realized during my career, it's all about the team. You have to have incredible capability. You have to have a team orientation of working well together. You have to have unity.
Crowds cheer during a downhill race at Utah’s Snowbasin. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)
You went on the torch relay not that long after 9-11. What did that mean to you?
I went just a few days before Christmas and I was able to go to Philadelphia, and this was right after 9-11, and Washington, DC and then New York. All very significantly impacted by 911. And we would go down the streets and see thousands of people gathering and cheering us on, and we'd pass by a firefighter station and and and just thank them for their service. But then going to the White House and being there with President Bush. And then up to New York and having the torch run through Manhattan with tens of thousands of people is something I'll never forget.
Many say one of the keys to the success of the 2002 Games was the people of Utah.
Yeah, it really is. Our secret sauce of how our games became seen as so special is because of the people we have here, the welcoming attitude, the friendliness, the hard work. It is a state of volunteerism in helping and we just tapped into that potential and magnified it and showed it to the world.
A torchbearer runs on the redrock around Utah’s iconic Delicate Arch in the lead up to the 2002 Olympics. (Tom Smart/Deseret News)
The legacy of 2002 is still felt today. A full third of Team USA in Beijing makes Utah home!
It's legacy at its best - because the athletes are the heart of the Games. They're the top priority and we kind of live a little bit vicariously through them. But this legacy continues forward because now this next generation that is competing in Beijing. It's so exciting to read about their stories that they're the kid that grew up down the block. That's amazing. But then it also lays the foundation into a potential future Games and can we continue that legacy or even better, expand that legacy?
Fraser Bullock and Mitt Romney join others at the top of the Olympic ski jumps in Park City.
Where do we stand on a future Games in Utah?
We're in the midst of putting a plan together for a future Games. A lot of it's done. But we are the choice of the USOPC (United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee) for a future Games. Now we just need the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to select us. Ideally, 2030, if we can make all the pieces come together to work for that. But regardless of which year will be pushing hard! Very much this year, and we think the second half of the year will have a lot of interesting activity.
The Miracle on Ice hockey team from 1980, led by captain Mike Eruzione, prepares to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony.
What other international cities are you watching?
I have the philosophy of cheering on any city that's willing to step forward in this important Olympic movement. So when I hear their names, I'm saying, good for you and we wish you the very best. We want the IOC to make the best selection, and we think that we are a marvelous selection.
20th Anniversary Celebrations
Myriad anniversary celebrations are planned all across Utah to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Utah. Checkout this full schedule of events and learn how you can win prizes by tagging your social media posts.
Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation
All of the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic venues remain active today. And many are open for public engagement. The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit organization that oversees the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Soldier Hollow in Midway and the Olympic Oval in Kearns. Learn how you can ride the Olympic bobsled track, soar over the Olympic ski jumps or participate in sport introduction program at Olympic venues through the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation.
One of the signature venues in 2002 was the Olympic cauldron at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah. While it’s flame was extinguished 20 years ago, it will be relighted to commemorate the 20th anniversary. Last fall a new Cauldron Plaza was unveiled, with the flame that originally atop the stadium now at street level, surrounded by displays documenting the teams and the highlights of the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Cauldron Plaza is an outdoor exhibit that is open anytime to the public.
2002 Opening Ceremony
Relive the 2002 Opening Ceremony at Rice-Eccles Stadium as the Games in Salt Lake City-Utah begin.
9-11 Flag Enters the Stadium
One of the most emotional elements of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games was the tattered American flag from the World Trade Center being brought into the stadium.
Tom Kelly: |00:00:00| And joining us now is the chief operating officer from 2002 and also the president and CEO of the Future America's Choice Bid, Fraser Bullock. Fraser, thanks for joining us on Last Chair.
Fraser Bullock: |00:00:24| So great to be with you, Tom.
Tom Kelly: |00:00:25| Now, before we get into the Olympics, we've to talk skiing. I mean, it is a skiing podcast and I think a lot of folks may not know this about you. You're a pretty familiar figure, but you are also a die-hard skier.
Fraser Bullock: |00:00:36| Absolutely. My favorite sport is being on top of a mountain, looking at the beautiful views and just letting it fly down the slope. Doesn't get any better than that.
Tom Kelly: |00:00:46| Yeah, we're going to talk a little bit more later about where you love to ski, but it is a great sport. Actually just one more question on skiing. When did you get into skiing? Is that something that you've done the whole time you've lived here in Utah?
Fraser Bullock: |00:01:00| I started skiing when I was 12 years old, which is 1967, so that's a long time ago.
Tom Kelly: |00:01:07| Well, it's not that long ago. It is great to have you here, and we're going to talk about the 2002 Olympics. It is the 20th anniversary coming up on February 8th, 20 years since the Games visited our great state. But we also are going to take a look ahead to 2030 and the future and trying to bring those games back to America. But to start it off, Fraser, give us a little bit of background about where you've come from and how you ended up in this role back in 2002.
Fraser Bullock: |00:01:38| Sure, I received my education at Brigham Young University with an MBA and went back to work in Boston with Mitt Romney at Bain and Company. And then when he started Bain Capital in 1984, I joined him there, so we had the opportunity to collaborate somewhat. I then went elsewhere to do other career pursuits. But then, when Mitt was selected as the new CEO in early 1999, he reached out to me as somebody who could be his COO. And when he asked me, I said absolutely not because I knew how challenging the situation was and the difficulties that were being faced. But he twisted my arm, and it's the best thing that ever happened to me was joining that other than marrying my wife. It was just absolutely fabulous.
Tom Kelly: |00:02:35| It is interesting to look back at decisions that you make in life and think about your mindset at the time. And I imagine that every day you work on this great program and you work with sports, you think back to that decision and say, glad it went that way and glad I went to 2002.
Fraser Bullock: |00:02:52| Absolutely. Because the Olympics becomes part of you, it becomes part of your DNA. The Olympic spirit infuses your body with enthusiasm because the cause is so great. You're really a unique, unifying force for the world. When you host a Games under the umbrella of sport, we see these amazing athletes achieve the best in their respective sports, and we bring the world together to celebrate that. It's so unique and so valuable, so I feel blessed the day I was pulled into the Olympic Movement.
Tom Kelly: |00:03:29| Before that day, did you have any connectivity to the Olympics? Were you a fan of the Olympics and you follow the Olympics when you were a child?
Fraser Bullock: |00:03:37| Well, I like to call myself in the world of sports a jack of all trades, but master of none. So I love sports. I've followed the Olympics just as a regular citizen. I did attend the 1996 Games in Atlanta, but other than that, I was just an innocent bystander until I got pulled in.
Tom Kelly: |00:03:59| Now I know when you came in when Mitt Romney, now the senator from the state of Utah, but when he pulled you in and you joined the organization, I know you had a lot of challenges. So were some. There were some difficulties in putting things together. But did you pretty quickly realize the scope of what you were involved with and really the depth and the emotion of what the Olympics mean?
Fraser Bullock: |00:04:21| It took a while for me to realize the scope. Because I've been in so many businesses and there's typically six, seven, eight functional areas - sales, marketing, manufacturing. The Olympics has 42. And just one example of that is the transportation system, which has five subsystems, five thousand vehicles, and that's one function out of forty two. So I quickly came to realize the scope, but then also the challenges we initially faced because sponsors were not supporting us enthusiastically, to say the least. There was a Justice Department investigation. There are all kinds of things going on that impeded us from going super fast that we had to address simultaneously with putting the plans together, building confidence, getting the sponsors back. But the scope was something I didn't imagine, but then learned very quickly what I was in for.
Tom Kelly: |00:05:21| With any organization, any company, you really are only as strong as the team that you put together and you were putting out fires at the start. But you're also looking ahead to the games. You had to put together a team of people and not a small team, a pretty large team of people to put these games on here in Utah.
Fraser Bullock: |00:05:38| Yes. When I first started, the team was two hundred and twenty people and there were some really, really capable people that were there already. But we needed to grow to 50,000 at games time, including volunteers and contractors. One of the things that I have realized during my career, it's all about the team. You have to have incredible capability. You have to have a team orientation of working well together. You have to have unity. And what I did was I went around the world to find the best people for the team. I went to the Sydney Games and hired some people down there because their games were just ending. I hire people from Atlanta, various other sport events and other countries as well. We assembled, in my opinion, the best Olympic organizing team in history,
Tom Kelly: |00:06:32| And I think people don't often think about the fact that your team isn't just people from the community. There are a lot of community people, but it really is an international team. You have different nationalities, different languages, all coming together with their expertise.
Fraser Bullock: |00:06:48| It really is because you need experts in discipline areas like accreditation is a very complex function. And we hired two people, one was an American, one was international, that knew accreditation better than anybody else in the world. Your general managers for your venues, that's a huge job in one of the most important jobs. And we hired people from Australia from all over because they could have their expertise. And here was my philosophy in the forty two functions. I wanted one person with at least one person with significant Olympic experience in that function to just make sure we knew what we were about and weren't missing anything.
Tom Kelly: |00:07:37| When you look at the things that you did with these games, certainly the 17 days of the games, that's what the world sees. But there was a lot more beyond that and I want to go to the torch relay just as an example. The torch relay is one of these things that really does bring people together around the state, around the world, really. That's a big organizational task that was overlaid on what you were already doing to prepare for the games that February.
Fraser Bullock: |00:08:02| Yes. And when you have and by the way, I'm glad you brought up the torch relay. It's one of my most cherished memories ever. But we had a completely separate organization that did a great job and we outsourced a lot of it to them and they did just fabulous work on it. It was a partnership, but the logistics of starting out in Greece and then bringing it back to the U.S. and going to 46 states and having speeches and 12,400 torch runners was incredible. But I remember being the head of the torch relay, said Fraser. You've got to go on the torch relay. I said, I can't. I'm too busy. I'm going to put on the games, said, you've got to go. So I went just a few days before Christmas and I was able to go to Philadelphia, and this was right after 9-11 and Washington, DC and then New York. All very significantly impacted by 911. And as we would go down the streets and see thousands of people gathering and cheering us on, and we'd pass by a firefighter station and and and just thank them for their service. But then going to the White House and being there with President Bush. And then up to New York and having the torch run through Manhattan with tens of thousands of people is something I'll never forget.
Tom Kelly: |00:09:42| It has been 20 years since 911 now, and it's an oft-forgotten point that that was an event that certainly changed our country, but it almost halted the games.
Fraser Bullock: |00:09:53| It did. I remember the morning of 911 as I was driving into work pretty early, I heard on the radio. The impact of the first jet hitting the twin towers and there was a lot of speculation on certainty and I got into the office and the first thing I did was call Mitt and he was just passing. He had just passed the Pentagon after it had been hit in a car because he was back raising money for security. And we talked that day about the importance of hosting the games going forward. We contacted the IOC to make sure that they are supportive of going forward because we recognize that our games have just taken on a different meaning of having the opportunity for some healing and unifying the world after this horrific tragedy.
Tom Kelly: |00:10:44| I think back on it now and I know the challenges that you went through, but ultimately the games did go on, albeit with maybe another layer or two of security.
Fraser Bullock: |00:10:55| Oh yes. Well, some of my best friends became the Secret Service, the FBI, the military, local law enforcement where we reviewed our security plan post-9 11 and we found it was already very solid. But we added some additional dimensions just to ensure security. And most of it was aviation-related given the impact of 9-11 and we had really safe and secure games.
Tom Kelly: |00:11:26| It sets some precedents, I think, to with security, the systems that were employed in Salt Lake City carried on to future games.
Fraser Bullock: |00:11:34| Yes. And one of the things we had was what we call an air cap, which is a combat air patrol, where we made sure we had aviation assets in the air 24/7 during the Olympic period. But then also we put together a lot of procedures and protocols for venue entry, perimeter security that have gone on to serve well for future games.
Tom Kelly: |00:12:04| Let's talk about your team. One of the things that has struck me over time is how close knit that team was in 2002 and how they have remained close together. Friendships were formed, professional relationships were formed. It really is like a family, isn't it?
Fraser Bullock: |00:12:24| It really is. And you have an environment where you're doing good for the world. So the cause is noble. And if you're able to assemble a team that is selfless, that will work together through thick and thin and trust each other and have a high capability, then you come together in a very unique way. And what's interesting about this is when I talked to Mitt and Ann about their experiences of running for president or anything else, they said there was nothing like the games that was absolutely the pinnacles of their career and my career. And it's a lot about the people, and I remember seeing a person that Beth White, who ran the main media center for us, the Salt Palace, and I saw her at subsequent games and she would come out and say there was nothing like Salt Lake 2002. The camaraderie, the capability, the success has never been duplicated and we all recognize we had something very special.
Tom Kelly: |00:13:36| Games can have the greatest staff ever, but ultimately it does come down to a huge volunteer base and Utah is great in this regard. But you mobilized huge numbers of really passionate volunteers.
Fraser Bullock: |00:13:51| Yes, we needed 24,000 volunteers and we got applications from 65,000 people and we ran an ad that said, Hey, want to volunteer for the games? No pay, hard work, long hours.
Tom Kelly: |00:14:05| Better hurry. But you got a coat.
Fraser Bullock: |00:14:08| That's right. You got a coat. And so we had a tremendous workforce of volunteers, and I would say that there are two things that came out of them. Number one, friendliness. I would get comment after comment from our international visitors, how wonderful our volunteers were, how so helpful and kind they were. And the second thing is their staying power in Atlanta. The attrition rate was 17 percent, which is not unusual for a games. Our games was less than one-half of one percent. They were committed. They loved it. And when I see people who had volunteered, when I see them today, they said, Oh, that was so special. I just loved every minute of it.
Tom Kelly: |00:14:55| They wear their coats still. And actually, it's a reason to get another games here because we need to freshen their coats a little bit. But I think it is something that is inherent in Utah. It's a part of our nature here as a state, it's our culture.
Fraser Bullock: |00:15:08| Yeah, it really is. Our secret sauce of how our games became seen as so special is because of the people we have here, the welcoming attitude, the friendliness, the hard work. It is a state of volunteerism in helping and we just tapped into that potential and magnified it and showed it to the world.
Tom Kelly: |00:15:30| So as we speak right now, Team USA is heading to Beijing. Many of them are already there. The games are coming up with the opening ceremonies on Friday, February 4th, but at the same time, lots of activities are going on back here in Salt Lake City to commemorate the 20th anniversary and help me on this Fraser. But February 8th is the anniversary of the actual opening ceremony, right?
Fraser Bullock: |00:15:54| Yes. February 8th was a magical day back in 2002 where we lit the cauldron for the first time and had a marvelous celebration. And here we are 20 years later. It's hard to comprehend, but we need to commemorate that special moment. So we will light the cauldron again for several days, but we'll light it on February 8th.
Tom Kelly: |00:16:18| If folks have not been out to the Cauldron Plaza, which was dedicated this fall. It really is an amazing place. It's right outside of Rice-Eccles Stadium. You can go down there any day. It's a free attraction, but there's been some great work put into this to really chronicle the timeline to celebrate some of the athlete victories.
Fraser Bullock: |00:16:38| Yeah, it's beautiful because you have at the center of it this beautiful cauldron and waterfalls on the side of it. Then around the perimeter, you have the story of the games, you have the story of the athletes. All the athletes are listed there, the medal winners. But then you have the story of putting on the games and what it was like and the people involved there. You really can immerse yourself into the time of twenty years ago, and I highly recommend it.
Tom Kelly: |00:17:08| There's also a variety of other celebrations going on in Salt Lake City and up in Park City. Are there any that you care to highlight?
Fraser Bullock: |00:17:15| Well, probably beside the cauldron lighting is that on Saturday, February 12th from one to five there's a celebration on Park City Main Street, where we invite all those -wear your coats, whatever and gather. There will be special commemoration there and some activities on Main Street. And we're just thrilled to use that day as a focus time where we can gather together. I'll be there. I'll be wearing one of my Olympic coats, so I hope to see many people there.
Tom Kelly: |00:17:47| You know, I am a little biased because I do live in Park City, but I remember back to that time and what a special place that was with the fire barrels down Main Street. I'm sure that was a big security issue at the time, but it was such a global gathering spot, much as it was in downtown Salt Lake City.
Fraser Bullock: |00:18:05| It was and that's what the games are about. They really bring people together, and we love what we call live sites like Park City, Main Street, people would come there. They just want to hang out and be with people from 83 countries from around the world and get to know them, do some penetrating other activities and just be involved in. And we had medals plaza downtown and what we call Salt Lake Olympic Square, which is a nine block perimeter where people could just be involved. Whether or not you had a ticket didn't matter, just come and enjoy. So this does commemorate that feeling of a live site during a games
Tom Kelly: |00:18:43| We're with Fraser, Bullock, the chief operating officer of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, were celebrating the 20th anniversary. And when we come back, we're going to talk more 2002 memories, we're going to talk about legacy and we're going to look ahead to bringing the games back to America. We'll be right back on Last Chair.
Tom Kelly: |00:19:04| And we are back on Last Chair, the Ski Utah podcast today we're talking with Fraser Bullock, the chief operating officer of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, held right here in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he is also the president and CEO of what we hope will be the future games coming back here to Utah as early as 2030. And I want to dive back into memories. We've done a good overview of what took place here 20 years ago, but what are some of those really special memories for you? We did talk about the torch parade, but there was one that was, I think, really special to a lot of us, and that was the opening ceremony. Give us a little sense of what those poignant moments were for you back in 02?
Fraser Bullock: |00:19:48| Yeah. Oh, I'll give you three. The first one is opening ceremonies, and I knew what was going to happen because I'd been part of putting together the plan and everything and all the rehearsals. But there was something magical about February 8th. And it became very special when the flag from the Twin Towers was brought in at the beginning of opening ceremonies carried by athletes. And there was complete silence in the stands. It was so impactful where your heart, my heart, felt like it was beating out of my chest where we felt unified not only as a country, but we had athletes from 83 countries being able to show their support. For the families of the victims of that tragedy, that unifying element was something I can still visualize today and is really symbolic of what the Olympics does. It brings people together in a unified way.
Tom Kelly: |00:20:56| Fraser, how did you organize that? How did you conceive that idea and actually get that flag here?
Fraser Bullock: |00:21:03| Yes. Well, it was escorted by the Port Authority of New York. We had our people in the communications area who were very adept at working and new people in New York. We did have to get special permission from the IOC because it was an unusual flag ceremony because we have the normal flag and then we had this flag. And whenever you change protocol with the IOC, you have to get special permission and credit to Mitt. I mean, he made it happen, work through some of the issues because we all knew at the end, including the IOC, that this needed to happen.
Tom Kelly: |00:21:42| It was. It was an amazing time. So what are some other points?
Fraser Bullock: |00:21:45| So just to sport one's one I can remember being at the men's snowboard halfpipe on a gorgeous day, a beautiful venue in Mitt and Ann were there with myself and my wife, Jennifer. And we're right next to the halfpipe. We did get special access and I remember watching Ross Powers fly out of the halfpipe so high it just blew my mind. Being able to watch these Olympians perform at that level was just stunning. And then we swept the podium, the U.S. swept the podium and so I had to go to Medals Plaza that night and celebrate, which was so great to see that event, which is so fun, so exciting and the USA swept the podium. It was an iconic day of celebrating athletes.
Tom Kelly: |00:22:34| It really was. And I have my own story that day because I was actually at Snowbasin. It was the women's downhill and the women's downhill ended up getting postponed. There was a thin band of fog about midcourse, and if I'm not mistaken, I think that might have been the only postponement in the Games. So when that was postponed, I made a beeline over to Park City to watch the snowboard and I walked into the venue and I looked at the scoreboard. I knew it was the last run and I said, Something must be wrong. Why? Why is it? USA, USA, USA. I didn't quite understand it and I looked at the athletes and they're like in a trance. You know that this was happening. And one other little side note, J.J. Thomas, who won the bronze medal that day, actually went on to become Shaun White's coach, and he coached Shaun in the 2014 or 2018 Olympics back to a gold medal. So a lot of history was made that day.
Fraser Bullock: |00:23:25| Oh, that's great. We'll see Shaun in Beijing here.
Tom Kelly: |00:23:29| We will see Shaun in Beijing.
Fraser Bullock: |00:23:31| So the legacy of 2002 continues on. One other experience that I have was in the Paralympics. The men's gold medal sled hockey game was just unbelievable because this is a team that came from last place in Nagano to competing for a medal and then a gold medal against Norway. And it went to a tie game at the end of regulation. It went to two overtime periods still tied and then it went to a shootout and the U.S. edged out Norway by one goal and the place went delirious. It was absolutely packed and I just thought of those athletes and all the work that they did and buying ice time at one o'clock in the morning because they couldn't afford regular ice time and living their dream. We saw the best of the Olympic and Paralympic spirit come forward through them.
Tom Kelly: |00:24:22| We haven't talked much about the Paralympics, but that is an integral part of any games, the Olympics and then subsequently the Paralympics. It's really a different type of emotion when you go to those events and you see what these athletes have overcome with whatever their personal situation was. But then to overlay becoming Paralympic champions to really get into the athletic side of it, it's a different emotion.
Fraser Bullock: |00:24:47| It is. And we were the first organizing committee to ever put on both games, and I'm so grateful because. The Paralympic Games gives you a whole different feel, as you mentioned, Tom, and I think of somebody like Chris Waddell, who is one of my personal heroes and who is an able-bodied skier and had an accident and became a Paralympian, and I lost count in terms. I think it's like 17 medals, summer and winter. But he was a star at our games. I think he won five medals at our games. I think three of them were gold. And you meet Chris, and he is just an example of the best of humanity, just a wonderful human being that's always caring about other people and has utilized his disability to make the world a better place.
Tom Kelly: |00:25:42| The Paralympics in 2002. Team USA had arguably probably its strongest team ever, just strong and deep. Chris Waddell was a great example of that, but as you said, he's going on to do really great things.
Fraser Bullock: |00:25:55| Yeah, and he's actually a part of our committee here because we love having people that are so dedicated to uplifting both movements, Olympic and Paralympic. And Chris is just a dream to have on our team and has been an ambassador for us ever since 2002. So this 20 year anniversary is very much his as well.
Tom Kelly: |00:26:27| Fraser, one of the events that is a favorite to many, the medal ceremony, and you created this amazing medals plaza in a vacant lot in downtown Salt Lake City that really became the hub of activities over the 17 days of the games.
Fraser Bullock: |00:26:46| I just love Medals Plaza. In fact, I was scoping out sites this morning looking towards the future games. And what it does is it allows the celebration of the athletes who win their medals to be in front of a massive crowd specifically for the award of those medals. And we built a secondary cauldron. We had a magnificent stage and then after the highlight of the athletes, then we had top-line music, talent and medals. Plaza really became the heart of downtown and in a way, the heart of the games where you could have cultural celebrations, where you could have athletes celebrations and you could have people coming together upwards of 20000 people a night going to medals plaza. It was great.
Tom Kelly: |00:27:36| Did you have any? Are there any particularly memorable memories? You have any, any athlete, athlete stories. You had an opportunity to meet some of these medalists.
Fraser Bullock: |00:27:45| Well, let me start with one of the memories. It was Bare Naked Ladies and, I mean, I had to ask my kids, which groups did we want there? And they come out on stage and I'm thinking, OK, that looked pretty interesting. But then they take off their outer clothing and they have speedskating suits on underneath. And it was just so cool and so fun. The crowd went wild. It was so fun and I was backstage and got to meet some of the athletes and performers. But for me, the highlight was really the men's snowboard halfpipe to seeing three American flags that were raised and then having our national anthem played and seeing those three wonderful snowboarders together under that national anthem was just a memory I'll never forget.
Tom Kelly: |00:28:34| Yeah, any organizational stories that you can remember, those odd circumstances where your team or your volunteers had to really come through it in a pinch?
Fraser Bullock: |00:28:45| Well, the nice thing about an organizing committee is you really empower you, train everybody, contingency planning and every venue becomes like its own little city where they have somebody in charge. And so all the issues that come up typically stop at the general manager and we were so well-trained, we knew we were going to do well. But things happen and because there's so many moving elements, and one of them was our first day of competition at Snowbasin, the men's downhill on the first Sunday, there was a little miscommunication on the traffic, on the parking lots, and so Mitt ended up just jumping out of his car and directing traffic over to the right spot. And I said, Go Mitt, go. I mean, here's a guy that's fully invested. He's managing it at the highest levels, but he's not afraid to dive in wherever he's needed at the micro-level. That was our team. We're invested whatever we needed to do. We would do.
Tom Kelly: |00:29:47| I was there that day and it was just amazing. I said, that does look like Mitt there with the traffic wand or whatever, whatever he had. But, but it really was a team. I mean, all you guys worked together didn't matter what level you were at.
Fraser Bullock: |00:30:00| It didn't. And we would go out of our way, Mitt and I would when we come to a venue to just thank the volunteers and all of team 2002. We're so grateful for their hard work and their devotion, dedication, and they all had smiles on their faces. They loved every minute of it.
Tom Kelly: |00:30:18| The the one aspect of the 2002 games that is nearest and dearest to me is the legacy that came out of that, and I want to tell my own story first because I came over here in 1988 with then the U.S. Ski Association, and we as an organization under Howard Peterson, had really pushed the U.S. Olympic Committee to look at a site that would bring legacy and legacy means carrying on the sports after the games. Salt Lake City truly figure that out, didn't they?
Fraser Bullock: |00:30:48| Absolutely. And it starts with the people. People like Howard and yourself and others who have great vision, and then it's enabled by economics. We were fortunate to blow the doors off of our economic plan and end up with a surplus of about one hundred million seventy six million of which went to endow our legacy venues. Because in way too many cities, the legacy venues which typically need subsidies to operate, they go into disrepair or disuse. And in our case, they're thriving and alive today because we were able to lay that financial foundation. But the team there has grown it and developed it to make it so much bigger and so much more successful than we ever dreamed.
Tom Kelly: |00:31:34| I want to go back in time and then we're going to fast forward to today. But going back in time and I know this was before you, Fraser, but these venues were built. Some of these venues were built 10 years before the games, and it really allowed the U.S. athletes to have an opportunity to train. But more than that, it really built community. The Utah Olympic Park, which was originally called the Bear Hollow Sports Park was online beginning in 1992, a full ten years in advance. That's pretty rare among Olympic cities.
Fraser Bullock: |00:32:04| Yes, it is. The early visionaries had to stick their necks out and the Legislature and governor as well to divert a quarter-cent of sales tax into funding those facilities. But what it did, it brought the community together to say, Yeah, this is real, we're going to pursue these games, number two. It showed the Olympic Movement both the USOC and the IOC that we're in this. This is real. And I think it really also benefited the athletes that they could get early runs on our various venues, like the sliding track and build up expertise. So it really served some big needs early on.
Tom Kelly: |00:32:49| Here's some statistics that are just astounding to me. And this is legacy at its finest. We have around 230 some Team USA athletes who are in Beijing for the Olympics coming up in February. Over half of Team USA has passed through Utah for training or competition in the last few years. A full third, a third of Team USA makes a training base here. Lives here, grew up here, goes to school here. There are dozens of foreign Olympians who make Utah their home. This is legacy
Fraser Bullock: |00:33:23| Its legacy at its best. Because the athletes are the heart of the games, they're the top priority and we kind of live a little bit vicariously through them because I like to pretend I'm an athlete, but I see what they do and I'm just amazed. But this legacy continues forward because now this next generation that is competing in Beijing, it's so exciting to read about their stories that they're the kid that grew up down the block. That's amazing. But then it also lays the foundation into a potential future games of Can we continue that legacy or even better, expand that legacy?
Tom Kelly: |00:34:03| Yeah, to me, I see it every day here being involved in sport, and it just is so gratifying, so gratifying to me. The other thing that's happened over time is so many events being held here and now summer events as well as winter events. But Utah really has become the state of sport.
Fraser Bullock: |00:34:20| Yeah, it's fantastic. My hat's off to Jeff Robbins and the Utah Sports Commission in terms of what they've done in hosting events that we have become a year round destination for all kinds of events at all levels, all the way from the easy levels to World Cups. And I think on the World Cup front and big international events just on the winter side, it's over a hundred and fifty. So this keeps us relevant in the Olympic world. It allows our local athletes to be able to have some home field competitions. So we really, I think, are a shining star in the Olympic and Paralympic movements
Tom Kelly: |00:35:00| As we look forward. Salt Lake City, Utah is very deeply involved. It is now America's choice for a future games. The next step is trying to bring one of those games back to Utah, hopefully as soon as 2030.
Fraser Bullock: |00:35:14| Yes, and we're hard at work. We've got an organization fully formed. Most of us are volunteers, which is the spirit of the games, and we have a fully formed board, which is comprised of political leaders, business leaders. A third, almost a third, are athletes because we want to continue to have that athletes voice. We're in the midst of putting a plan together for a future games. A lot of it's done. But we are the choice of the USOPC for future games. Now we just need the IOC to select us. We think twenty twenty two will be a very big year. No one will determine which games we're pursuing. Ideally, 2030, if we can make all the pieces come together to work for that. But regardless of which year will be pushing hard? Very much this year, and we think the second half of the year will have a lot of interesting activity.
Tom Kelly: |00:36:16| Your organization has been very forward with the concept of athletes. First, you organized a board this past summer with Catherine Raney Norman, a four time Olympic speed skater as the chair and a strong focus on athletes. That would seem to be something that would be commonplace, but it isn't necessarily the case, and it's something I know that you as the leader have really driven that we have to be athletes first.
Fraser Bullock: |00:36:43| We do. They are the heart of the games. They make everything possible. They are the example we aspire to achieve like they do and having Catherine as our chair speaks volumes. She's an absolutely incredible person with superb talent and skills, and I just love working with her. We have Chris Waddell on our executive committee as an athlete and we talk to these athletes and we say, What can we do to make the games experience better for not only the athletes or but also the athletes, families and their friends and things like that. So we want to do something really, really special when we host the games again.
Tom Kelly: |00:37:30| All of the venues from two thousand to remain active, updated and ready to go. But the one that's really fascinating to me is the athlete village and the concept of the athlete village that Utah is able to do because of the proximity of the venues and the relationship that you have with the University of Utah.
Fraser Bullock: |00:37:49| The University of Utah is such a great partner. They were in 2002. I remember working with the president, and anything we needed, we could get done. The same thing is true today with Taylor Randall. We just have a wonderful partnership and with the people there, that will be our village and what's unique about it, because our games are so compact where all the venues are within a one hour drive, we can have all the athletes together. That's not the experience they find themselves in games after games that we're seeing right now. And if we really put athletes first, having them be together to get to know each other and celebrate their accomplishments is very, very important to us. So we're so excited and what they've done at the village or at the University of Utah, it's grown, it's expanded. The facilities are just mind-blowing. The athletes will have an incredible experience at that village.
Tom Kelly: |00:38:49| Back in the 90s, when Salt Lake City was pursuing first the 98 games in the two thousand two games. There was a very, very, I'll call it onerous process to bid, and there were intense timelines to meet and fairly expensive process. The IOC has gone to a more organic approach to try to mitigate some of the challenges of the past, but it also leaves you without really knowing exactly when that decision will be made.
Fraser Bullock: |00:39:15| Yeah, but I'll take that any day because the prior process was so competitive and you'd end up with one winner and several losers and you'd spend a fortune. Chicago spent over $100 million in bidding for the 2016 Games. Our budget is 3.8 million and we may have money left over because the new process, it's a collaboration. It is a partnership, and they call it a dialogue process with the IOC. We're in that dialogue process and it does feel like a partnership. And as a result of that, we don't have to spend near the money, we can be equally effective. But there is uncertainty around when the games will be awarded. But I don't think they'll let it go beyond what the normal timeframe would be, which was seven years out. So that leaves us about a year and a half window when these games should be awarded for 2030.
Tom Kelly: |00:40:15| And I know that just in conversations with you that you're certainly aware of the other competitors, but really, your focus is not so much on them. It's on what you're doing here.
Fraser Bullock: |00:40:25| Yes. And I have the philosophy of cheering on any city that's willing to step forward in this important Olympic movement. So when I hear their names, I'm saying, good for you and we wish you the very best. We want the IOC to make the best selection, and we think that we are a marvelous selection because of all of the things that we that we do that line up completely with the direction of the IOC under agenda 2020 and the new norm. We really live and breathe that, but we are focused on what we're doing here.
Tom Kelly: |00:40:59| Fraser The Beijing Games will open up on Friday, February 4th. NBC will be there to cover the action. You have a busy schedule of 20th anniversary activities coming up over the next few weeks, but as you watch the games, what are the things you're going to look for out of Beijing, both as an efficient Ottawa of the Olympics yourself and also as a future organizer?
Fraser Bullock: |00:41:20| Well, the first thing I look for is the stories of the athletes. The hosts are so fun and so engaging because you're never sure what's going to emerge, what's going to happen. And so as a fan of the athletes and the Olympics, that's where I always start. But then the other things I look at and a lot of this will come behind the scenes. I will find out from the people who are there on the ground what's working behind the scenes. What makes this venue particularly special for the athletes? What conditions there? What about perimeters? What about logistics and transportation? Find out everything behind the scenes and what Beijing has maybe done differently to lift the games to a new level. To innovate them were all over that, and a lot of that will be in video and telecom and things like that that we'll try to understand so that when our games come around, we can share the experience of the games to the world in the best and most technologically advanced fashion.
Tom Kelly: |00:42:23| You know, to that point, and it's just a little bit of a personal philosophy of mine, I know that we're all caught up in the the the issues there that have been so much in the forefront, the the situation with COVID, which is a real challenge, but set that all aside, it's the Olympic Games, its athletes coming together. And I personally enjoyed this week to talk to athletes who are on their way. They're excited, you know,
Fraser Bullock: |00:42:48| They should be because they don't know what's going to happen. They get to stand in front of the world and what's what's interesting before every games. There's always this issue and that issue. But when the games start and that first athlete competes, everything changes. It becomes about them. And that's what we'll get to in just a short period of time. And all this other information and discussion will fade to the background.
Tom Kelly: |00:43:15| Well, Fraser Bullock, thank you for no one taking us back in time to 2002 and also for fast-forwarding out to what we hope will be the return of the games here in 2030. And we're going to move in now to our Fresh Tracks section to close off this episode of Last Chair in just a few fun questions. But I know you have a place up in Park City, but do you have a very special favorite ski run in Utah that you just really love?
Fraser Bullock: |00:43:40| Well, I have many, but I'll point to one, which is Mercury on Iron Mountain at Park City Mountain Resort on the Canyons side. It's when it's freshly groomed and you're the first one there and have the sunshine on your shoulders in the back and you can see the snow flaring from your turns and you really dial it in and you and there's nobody else on the hill so you can go to higher speeds. My wife did put a spin speed limit on me of 60, which I now 60. Yeah, I respect that because I frequently exceeded that and she got after me. But flying down that hill Mercury and feeling that fresh snow first thing in the morning is just as good as it gets.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:28| I got to go back to the speed thing, though. Are you using a ski tracker?
Fraser Bullock: |00:44:31| Yes.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:31| What do you use?
Fraser Bullock: |00:44:32| I use Ski Tracks.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:33| You do. And how does your wife know that you went 60 miles an hour? Do you go home and brag?
Fraser Bullock: |00:44:39| I used to. You don't do that. Yeah, I had one time where I got over 70 in the high 70s, and she said, that's it. That's when she put on the speed limit, which I'm grateful to her now because I'll probably live. A little bit longer because of that wise imposition of a speed limit, Canyons patrol.
Tom Kelly: |00:44:57| Don't worry about this. It's under control. Here's a question I actually haven't asked guests in a while, but it's always a fun one. Groomers, glades, moguls or powder?
Fraser Bullock: |00:45:09| Oh, that's so hard. And it's changed. At my age, I used to do bumps any time I could find them. But now my legs are a little bit less ambitious so I can do a few moguls for a while. But I've come to really love groomers and I've really become a fan of carving and seeing how high I can get my edge angles to the extent that I actually bought a ski simulator and put it in my basement that actually tests and you can measure your edge angles. And so I just like laying out on the hill and getting down low. I'll put that Eq. well, maybe even a little bit ahead of powder, but powder, when you've got that glorious day of untracked powder, there's just nothing like it and you get the headshots. So those two are kind of neck and neck.
Tom Kelly: |00:45:55| When you're laying your edges over or you're thinking like, I look like Ted Ligety.
Fraser Bullock: |00:46:00| Well, yeah, I thought that until I skied with Ted, and he skied with my ski group and I said, Ted, go down ahead of me. I want to watch her form and I'm a fast skier. But oh my gosh, he just took off and he was turning a lot and I said, This is a different world, so I now can place myself relative to Ted and it's a long ways down.
Tom Kelly: |00:46:25| Yeah, it is nice to think about, though. We've talked about a lot of memories from 2002, but do you have one notable memory that one that is just like always in the forefront of your mind?
Fraser Bullock: |00:46:36| I would say that at the end of closing ceremonies. Oh, boy. We met and I and our wives and the governor and his wife went on the top of Rice-Eccles Stadium, so you could see these massive fireworks that we'd spent all this money on. And I remember standing there and looking at Mitt and Ann and just saying, we did it and it wasn't us. It was Team 2002 which included the athletes, but just that sigh of relief of not only did it all work. It was spectacular. Everything came together. The number of medals for U.S. 34 when the high was 13 before the weather, the operations, the stories of the games, it all came together. And just that feeling of satisfaction that we did our small part to help all of this happen.
Tom Kelly: |00:47:34| Fraser, final question. As you think back, in one word, how would you describe what the Olympics mean to Utah?
Fraser Bullock: |00:47:44| Unity.
|00:47:45| Love it. Tell me about it.
Fraser Bullock: |00:47:47| Well, when you go downtown or Park City and you're on Main Street in Park City or you're down at Medals Plaza and you see thousands and thousands of people all engaged and big smiles on their face. Nobody was thinking about political divides or any of those issues or anything like that. They're thinking about being a friend. Reaching out and kindness to people around them. Big smiles on their faces, welcoming people from around the world. Utah showed its best, was completely unified from every angle and showed that unity to the world to help the world become even more unified.
Tom Kelly: |00:48:28| Fraser Bullock, thanks for joining us and let's bring those games back to America in 2030.
Fraser Bullock: |00:48:35| I'm working as hard as I can.