Utah's chief Olympic organizer, responding to remarks by Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis that the city's Olympic drive is in low gear, said the race for the 1998 Winter Olympics is one of stamina and not speed.

DePaulis told reporters Thursday the city's Olympic effort has lost "a little bit of ground" because of an inability to decide on the structure of the organization to carry an Olympics bid to the International Olympic Committee."I'd like to see it (the Olympic bid effort) pick up speed and I think it will," he said.

Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee Chairman Tom Welch said, however, that the city has lost little momentum in the bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics, which will be awarded by the IOC in 1991.

"I think it's important to put it in perspective," he said. "This is a marathon run and not a sprint."

Among progress made by Utah Olympic boosters since the city won the U.S. bid June 4, was a meeting in Switzerland on Monday with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

DePaulis believes much of the delay can be attributed to a lack of consensus over the structure of the organizing committee, which will begin operation as a non-profit organization to pursue the IOC bid.

Welch said the delay is not a result of dissension within Olympic ranks but rather a result of the difficulty gathering Olympic decision-makers during summer months when many are vacationing or out of town for other reasons.

But both officials appear to agree on how the lines of authority within the organizing committee should be drawn. Welch would serve as chief executive officer, overseen by a policy board.

The policy board, which would set policy to be implemented by Welch, would be appointed by communities most closely involved in the Olympic effort, Welch said.

"All of the communities that are involved need to have some input in this," Welch said.

Such an organizational structure, according to DePaulis, would install a system of checks and balances in the city's Olympic bid, give the public a stake in controlling the bid and prevent potential conflicts of interest.

"I don't think conflict of interest is a valid issue," Welch said. "But I think it is important that there is a check and balance that ultimately leads back to the elected official."

While Welch and DePaulis agree on how the Olympic bid should be operated, Welch said it won't lead to any immediate formalization of the city's organizing committee.

The committee must next determine how the state Winter Games Authority - the agency that will administer public money for the Olympics - will operate in conjunction with the organizing committee.

The authority will be responsible for budgeting $56 million in money collected in state and locally collected sales tax to help build a speed skating rink and ski jump required of Salt Lake City by the the USOC.

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Olympic parley

Salt Lake City Winter Games Organizing Committee Chairman Tom Welch met in Switzerland on Monday with International Olympic Committee Chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Welch, accompanied by U.S. Olympic Committee President Robert Helmick, discussed the city's planned November Olympics referendum with Samaranch.

Welch said the IOC head was unconcerned that Utahns might vote down the Games. "He thought it was a healthy process," Welch said.

Welch also said Samaranch told him Salt Lake City, which will bid for the Games for the first time this decade, wasn't in a weakened position because of its newcomer status in front of the IOC.

"He acknowledged that the Olympic effort is a long-term effort and a long-term process of building relationships," Welch said.