The Sunday after our first ski trip we decided to go back in to the mountains, but this time we headed to Park City, Utah. I knew one of the places I wanted to visit while we were there was Utah Olympic Park. We were also planning on visiting the outlet stores and Main Street in Park City. The drive to park city from Layton, Utah, where we are staying, is about an hour. It doesn’t seem quite that long though because there is so much to look at along the way. We drove down interstate fifteen through Salt Lake City then we headed into the canyon. The interstate is made up of lots of windy curves that take you up into the mountains. Once some elevation is gained it opens up to spacious views of the mountains and rolling hills. Driving in to Park City is like entering a totally different atmosphere, both meteorologically and culturally. I started noticing that the homes became nicer and the temperature on the car thermometer was dropping. There are people all over the place skiing. We passed several cross country skiing areas along the way. The snow was also becoming deeper. As we got off the exit to head in to Park City you could see the Nordic Ski jumps high up on the mountainside. I could not wait to go explore Olympic Park. Our first stop, however, was the Tanger Outlets. At first, I did not want to stop at the outlet sores. Who goes to Park City to go to outlet stores? Once I got out of the car and realized what stores they had there I was a little more accepting of the idea. Of course, I had to buy something. I definitely wanted to make the outlet store excursion as quick as possible though. As we were walking around the outlet mall, one of the first things I noticed about Park City was the cultural variety. I noticed at least five different nationalities during the short time were at the outlet mall. It just added to the excitement of where I was. Park City is a world renown ski destination. People from all over the world travel to Park City just for the skiing. After a few purchases, we were off to our next stop, Utah Olympic Park. As we winded up the mountain side towards the park those Nordic Ski jumps we saw from the interstate grew larger and larger. They actually look quite small from far away. Definitely not the case the closer you get to them. As we came over the last hill into the parking lot there it was, the sliding track. I was super excited to see this because the next weekend I had reservations to take a ride down the sliding track on a bobsleigh. Seeing the track for the first time absolutely added to my anticipation. I was super excited. As soon as I got out of the car I just wanted to explore. The park is pretty much open to foot traffic. I didn’t see any signs that said do not enter. Of course, the first thing I wanted to check out was the sliding track. There is a walkway directly next to the outside of the track so I started walking that. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get to the inside of the track or not. Come to find out there is a pedestrian underpass leading under the track. You go down a flight of stairs, directly under the track, and then right up the other side. Running along the inside of the track is an access road. It is a pretty open area, and I imagine it would have to be considering they hosted the Olympics. I got the best pictures from the inside of the track.
The timing board shows the track in its entirety. There are fifteen turns total. You can also see the track itself in this picture. They keep the track covered so they don’t have to clear the snow and it keeps the ice from melting. I found an opening in the tarps and took a picture of the track.
It was so cool to be able to see a sliding track close up. Bobsleigh has always been one of my favorite Winter Olympic sports. It really put it in to perspective to see the size of the track, the diameter of the turns, and the steepness of the banks in the turns.
I was super interested in knowing all of the details about the Olympic Park. I wanted to know the logistics of everything. Where did they put the stands? What are all the different buildings for? How many people were here for the Olympics? For the time being my questions went unanswered and I made my own inferences. After taking photographs of the sliding track and making a decision not to hike the entire mountain I started to walk back the way I came. The second thing that stood out to me after we arrived was the hill behind the main building. I went to check that out. It was covered in all different kinds of jumps and obstacles. I assumed it was their training area for young athletes. It looked fun and intimidating.
I continued walking behind the main building and on the other side were the summer freestyle ski jumps.
I had been told by my boss before I came to Utah about these jumps. At the bottom of the jumps is a gigantic swimming pool. During the summertime athletes practice their arial maneuvers using these jumps and the pool to break their fall. I was pretty cold at this point so I decided to head inside and meet up with the rest of the group. Turns out that inside the main building, which is called The Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center, they have a couple of museums.
The first museum I went through was The Alf Engen Ski Museum. It provided a history of skiing and how it has evolved over the years. It had an exhibit on the beginnings of skiing in Park City. There were exhibits on different snow sports from cross country skiing to freestyle and everything in between. There were also some interesting displays on skiing in Utah and what makes it unique. I met up with the rest of the group in the museum theater where they were watching 2002 Winter Olympic highlights. I made it just in time to see the bobsleigh segment. Watching the highlights of the bobsleigh competition only intensified my anticipation for my chance to go down the track. The second museum they have there is The George Eccles 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum.
This one had some really cool exhibits. There were pictures and memorabilia from a variety of winter sports that were a part of the 2002 Winter Olympics. They had costumes and pictures from the opening and closing ceremonies. My favorite exhibit was the Olympic Medals.
They had a variety of the medals on display. In the center, of course, was the gold medal flanked by silver and bronze for a variety of different sports. I didn’t realize this before, but each sport gets it own medal. Each medal is sculpted the same way but they are engraved on the back for their corresponding sport. They also had some of the molds and dyes they used to make the medals. Once we finished looking through the museum we made a stop in the gift shop. We didn’t have any concrete plans for the rest of the day other than going to main street in Park City. We weren’t entirely sure what else may be in store for us in Park City though, so we decided to go find out.