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Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho to court Oly visitors

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All those national and international journalists who were complaining about not having access to potent potables during Salt Lake's 2002 Winter Games needn't worry.

Where Salt Lake is lacking, Wyoming is filling the gap.

Just across from the Salt Palace and ExpoMart, which will together house 10,000 media covering the Games, Wyoming Travel and Tourism will be pouring free liquor and providing an indoor smoking lounge to interested journalists.

"The center is for journalists to relax in and mingle," said Chuck Coon, media relations manager for Wyoming Travel and Tourism. "There's a second room that's got an area where there will be smoking allowed since we hear international journalists puff cigarettes regularly."

While Coon insists Wyoming doesn't want to compete directly with Salt Lake City, it likely will drag a few reporters away from the Main Media Center at the Salt Palace where the Salt Lake Organizing Committee will be selling alcoholic beverages.

The Wyoming perks continue.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is offering free day trips to its powdery slopes. Reporters interested in researching stories there can catch a 6:20 a.m. flight from Salt Lake City, arrive in Jackson Hole at 7:10 a.m. board a 30-minute bus to the resort, spend a day skiing or snowboarding and then fly back to Salt Lake City before evening Olympic celebrations begin, communications director Anna Olson said.

In the end Wyoming will spend $300,000 to lure national and international media to its state, piggy-backing on the exposure Utah will receive for hosting the Winter Games.

Wyoming is also courting Utahns.

Those who want to flee the Olympic hordes are welcome in Wyoming, Coon said. For the first time Jackson Hole is offering free skiing for children ? a campaign Olson said is aimed directly at Utahns, known for large families.

Beyond Wyoming, other states bordering Utah are similarly wooing the Olympic throngs.

The Nevada Commission on Tourism is ponying up $300,000 to produce, along with the Idaho Department of Commerce and the state of Utah, a visitors center showcasing the three states at 250 S. Main.

At the center, Nevada will distribute information about the whole state, while Idaho will offer a "media survival kit" and distribute information on "Olympic athletes who live and train in Idaho."

But other states have balked at cherry picking on Utah's Games.

Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico are doing little to court Olympic visitors or Utahns wanting to flee.

"As a state we are not doing anything," Kristen Jamagin, spokeswoman for the Arizona Office of Tourism, said. "The cost was very expensive, up around $200,000 for us to participate. We just thought we could spend that money in other ways."

Originally a conglomerate of all states touching Utah's borders was planning a joint marketing venture for the Games, but that partnership broke up and, in the end, only Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada have followed through with their plans.

E-MAIL: bsnyder@desnews.com