Utah’s Official Sport


We’ve got an official gun, an official dessert, an official grass, an official cooking vessel, an official vegetable, so why not an official winter sport? “I thought we already had one,” said Nathan Rafferty, president of SkiUtah during the annual Ski Utah Local Media Day. Right. It’s hard for the skiers and boarders in this state to imagine that we don’t. After all, what else is there to do in the winter but ride?

Last week, Governor Herbert signed a bill that made it ‘official’. From now on Utah’s state winter sport is ski and snowboarding, according to House Bill 201.

The proclamation was made in front of Utah’s ski writers and broadcasters at Solitude Ski Resort, Friday, April 6.

It’s not like we really need to have a law in place to know what 25 percent of the state knows. There’s not much else you can do from December to April. Plus, the ski industry brings in $1.173 billion dollars to the state, 20 thousand jobs and a healthy lifestyle. What the bill says is that finally our state legislature sees the value in outdoor recreation and tourism. They’ve even coughed up an extra $2 million over last year for the Utah Office of Tourism budget.

The ski season may not have been all that but it was definitely a banner year for it in the legislature. HB201 is the second recreation bill passed. The first was a resolution for interconnecting the seven resorts in the Wasatch. Park City Mountain Resort, Canyons, Deer Valley, Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird are primed for a European-style experience.

After Gov. Herbert signed the bill, Park City Mountain Resort’s Jenni Smith took the podium for another official announcement – an exploratory committee has been appointed to study the possibility of hosting the 2022 Olympic Games.

The committee will submit a report to the Governor in the next 60 days. After that, he and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker would decide whether to present a bid to the Olympic Organizing Committee (IOC). If we do, we’ll be competing with Denver, Reno/Tahoe and possibly Bozeman, Mont., for 2022. “The question isn’t “why?” but “why not?” said Smith.

The former 2002 venues are still active, they meet the stated IOC criteria of sustainability, carbon neutral and compact and would require little money for upgrades. Judging from past freestyle comps, Canyons would have no trouble hosting the newly added skier and boarder cross events. We did it before and we can do it again seems to be the local consensus. “Maybe I’m bragging but we really had a successful Games,” said Smith. A decision on 2022 wouldn’t come until 2015 so there’s plenty of time plan. Of course, it just makes sense that the state with the official sport of skiing and riding should be the one to host the Winter Olympics, don’t you think?

To follow the progress and minutes of the committee go to the Exploratory Committee on the Utah Sports Commission website.


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