PARK CITY — The Olympic Park is preparing for a big celebration Saturday as it unveils its newly renovated Olympic Freestyle pool.

Eight months ago, workers began ripping out the old training ramps, which were built in 1993 — nine years prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics.

“It really needed a modernization,” said Colin Hilton, president and CEO of the Olympic Legacy Foundation. “All of the wood was really beat up with the sun and the water. It was really becoming unsafe."

In October, crews dismantled the entire facility.

Built out of steel, there are now seven ramps instead of four so more skiers can train simultaneously. The swimming pool is larger, and the hillside was re-graded to allow training in newer Olympic events.

The $3 million facelift also provides training opportunities for snow sports that didn't exist during the Utah games.

“We've always wanted to be a world-class training facility,” Hilton said. “Over the course of 22 years, sport disciplines have progressed and changed, and now we have sports like slopestyle skiing, and as recently as last week, big air competition.”

The coaches and athletes were part of the design process.

“Not only from the concept to the actual angles of the ramps, but also in the selection of the surface that they ski on,” said Luke Bodensteiner, executive vice president of Athletics at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “It’s been such a great project to get them engaged and their expertise and put them into what really is a unique facility now worldwide.”

One of the new ramps is the “freeride” ramp.

“It’s twice as wide, 16 feet wide, and has a curvable artificial snow surface that allows the athletes to hit the jump as they would in winter and soar about 70 feet across the pool to practice their flips and their twists,” Hilton said.

The state-of-the-art training facility is attracting attention from athletes all around the world, who wonder when they can come and how they can sign up to use the facility for practice, Bodensteiner said.

“It’s made quite a statement, actually, in the sport,” he said.

The training center is named the Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool. Spence Eccles, a longtime Utah banker, philanthropist and major Olympic supporter, provided the initial $1 million as a challenge gift to get this project going.

“I’m privileged to be a part of this because I really believe in it,” Eccles said. “But the timing was critical that we got it funded and get the construction done so that we didn’t lose any training time, first and foremost, for our team to train on.”

The new facility is maintenance-free, has twice the capacity of the old one and has been modernized for new sports. And it sends the message that Utah could host the Olympics again, officials said.

“(U.S. Olympic Committee members) look at what Utah has been doing between the 2002 Games and whenever our opportunity is,” Hilton said. “For us, we are showing our commitment for winter Olympic sports.”

“Now, it’s just a matter of having an opportunity to bid,” Eccles said. “I’m ready to bid next week.”

He added that many Olympic cities do not maintain everything that they had in venues.

“I would like to think we are the ones setting the model of how Olympic cities continue what I call a living legacy of the games that we hosted,” Eccles said. “It wasn’t just a three-week celebration. It was a continuation of efforts, and for us, it was about engaging the community and use of these Olympic facilities.”

A grand opening celebration for the training center is planned for Saturday, June 27. It will include a commemorative Flying Ace All-Stars Freestyle Show featuring Olympians and athletes from past and present, plus an outdoor barbecue and more. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, go to utaholympiclegacy.org/events-at-the-park/freestyle-pool-grand-opening.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: kmccord@deseretnews.com