The Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah, will host the slalom, freestyle aerials and freestyle moguls skiing events at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. In a sharp contrast to its neighboring Olympic venues, Deer Valley barely needed any work to get ready for the games.
Snowbasin, Soldier Hollow, Utah Olympic Park and Deer Valley. While the first three of those 2002 Olympic skiing venues underwent combined construction costs of hundreds of millions of dollars as soon as they were selected to host the games, Deer Valley has been practically ready for years.
As Deer Valley's communications manager Christa Graff explains, the 20-year-old resort only needed a few minor additions.
"Deer Valley was very lucky. We have four mountains and the only mountain that will be impacted is our lower mountain, Bald Eagle, from the Olympic venues," she explains." So we were in a really good situation in that the majority of the infrastructure was already done. The only real construction that we've had to do is we built the mogul hill and we did some construction work over the summertime for the landing hill of the aerials. Other than that everything was already in place."
Unlike the little-known Snowbasin resort, where the downhill and giant slalom events will be run, Deer Valley is renowned among the wealthy community for its excellence. In fact, when Ski Magazine last released its annual top 60 ski resorts in North America, Deer Valley was number two.
Graff says that being located right in the middle of a well-to-do neighborhood has barely created any conflict for Deer Valley. "I think at first people were a little bit skeptical when we first got the bid in the early 1990's. And since then it's just been amazing to see the community come together," she says. "For locals that are here year round living in the Park City area and people that just have second homes here, the majority are all very supportive and very excited that they get to be part of a chance in a lifetime to have the Olympics on their home turf. So the support has really been overwhelmingly positive. "
One problem that the Salt Lake Olympic skiing venues face is ensuring that the courses will have the right amount of snow come February. Graff says Deer Valley installed snowmaking equipment to help prevent any postponements. "We've put in that snowmaking system throughout the whole mountain to ensure that if mother nature doesn't come through that we can still offer a great skiing experience," she explains.
But what if Mother Nature comes through a little too much? That happens to be main thing Deer Valley's Christa Graff is worried about.
The only real concern is too much snow. And that would be only on competition days where it's just snowing so hard that, for example, the aerialists wouldn't be able to see where they were when they were competing. But February is usually a good month with a lot of sunshine. So we're keeping our fingers crossed," she says.
The venue is set to host more than 13,000 spectators during the games. The seats have been configured so that those in attendance can view the entire event, which gives Deer Valley another edge over Snowbasin, where the spectators can only see the lower third of the course.
The freestyle skiers will be putting on a show that will appear dangerous and reckless. But in order for the International Ski Federation to recognize freestyle skiing as a sport, careful safety measures had to be introduced. Competitors have to practice and perfect their moves more than 100 times in water, like the pool at the nearby Utah Olympic Park, before they can use them in actual competition at Deer Valley.
Deer Valley has been recognized for years for its excellence. The fine dining and lodging have been praised, not to mention the skiing on the well groomed slopes. But at the 2002 Winter Games, Deer Valley Resort will be seeking world acclaim.