The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are about to begin in Sochi, Russia. If you want to feel like a champion yourself, head for Salt Lake City, Lake Placid or Squaw Valley, the three US resorts which have hosted Winter Games, and bring the kids, since each of these resorts has world-class children’s programs, including racing clinics for future Olympians.
Here’s a look at the most recent site of the games in the United States, in Salt Lake City in 2002, where there are three world-class ski resorts within 30 minutes of the airport, and several more within another 30 minutes.
Park City Mountain Resort – One of the most diverse and busiest resorts in Utah, there is an immense network of lifts that includes two six-seat chairlifts and one lift from the town’s Main Street. After hours, downtown throbs with nightlife, in restaurants and clubs in restored Victorian buildings that date back to the town’s original gold and silver mining days. Park City Mountain Resort website.
This is where the snowboarding events were held, and the Olympic Superpipe attracts both freestyle skiers and boarders. Park City has eight bowls and a variety of terrain to please – or challenge — any level. To avoid the crowds, head to the King Con lift, which accesses a network of long blue cruisers.
Deer Valley – Best known for its impeccable grooming, with long cruisers that invite similarly impeccable turns, and luxury lodging. But don’t get the idea this resort is just for beginners and intermediates. I have humiliated myself on the steeps off the ridgeline on Bald Mountain, the highest of Deer Valley’s several peaks, and on Champion, where the mogul events were held.
This resort, also is known for its gourmet food, including the sumptuous Fireside dining, when your meal is prepared the old-fashioned way, at huge fireplaces. And for ski legend Stein Eriksen, who often greets guests and diners at his luxurious eponymous Lodge. Be sure to check out the lobby cases showcasing his Olympic and World Cup medals and other trophies. Deer Valley website.
Snowbasin – This resort had been a little-known favorite of locals for more than 60 years, until it burst onto the national scene by hosting the men’s and women’s downhill races. The aptly named Grizzly is a bear of a run – steep of course, with drop-offs and a dogleg turn in the middle. Olympians raced this at highway speeds, but these days both Grizzly and the women’s Wildflower downhill run are schussed at slower speeds by us lesser mortals.
Fully half this sprawling mountain is rated intermediate, and with its short lift lines, velvety cruisers and high-speed lifts, it’s possible to rack up more than 50,000 vertical feet in a day. Snowbasin has the same owner as Sun Valley, and the spacious and elegant mid-mountain log lodges have a similar design and feel, with Venetian glass chandeliers and bronze animal sculptures. Snowbasin website
Utah Olympic Park – This is where the ski jumping, bobsled and luge events were held, and it continues to serve as a training center for US Olympic team members and future Olympians. Sign up for a bobsled ride, when you are sandwiched in between two athletes in training – the driver and the brakman – for an unforgettable adrenalin rush. I’ve done it twice – once in winter and once in summer. That’s enough for me. Your turn now. There’s also a small Olympic Museum here. Utah Olympic Park Website
Find out more about winter sports in Utah from Ski Utah which provided the image here.
EcoXplorer will be focusing on Lake Placid next.