PARK CITY —  Utah’s investment in high level winter sports ratcheted up another notch Wednesday with the unveiling of the Spencer F. Eccles Olympic Mountain Center at Utah Olympic Park.

Twenty-five acres of expert downhill terrain, accessed by a high-speed chairlift dubbed “Gamechanger,” was officially declared open and ready for training and competition by Colin Hilton, CEO of the Olympic Legacy Foundation.

“This is a game-changer. We can now offer a progression of training and competition opportunities above and beyond what exists anywhere else in the world.” — Colin Hilton, CEO of the Olympic Legacy Foundation

The ski runs are located on the west side of Olympic Park and are visible in part from the nearby I-80 freeway.

The area is named after noted skier and winter sports booster Spencer F. Eccles. Eccles began ski racing as a boy on the slopes of Snowbasin. He raced four years at the University of Utah, captaining the team and earning All-America honors, and was first alternate on the United States’ 1958 FIS championship team.

Reminiscing about “racing with bamboo pole gates, leather boots and homemade uniforms,” the 88-year-old Eccles told the crowd assembled for the grand opening, “There was no way we could have imagined a place like this, nope, nothing even close.”

He continued, “For me to see this amazing project come to life and to know what an amazing impact it’s going to have on so many kids and elite athletes alike for generations yet to come, yes, it’s truly a dream come true.”

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“This is a game-changer,” said Hilton. “We can now offer a progression of training and competition opportunities above and beyond what exists anywhere else in the world.”

Several groups came together to raise funds for the project, including the Park City Ski and Snowboard Club, Rowmark Ski Academy, the State of Utah/Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and the University of Utah, but the final big push came from a $5 million grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, which Spencer Eccles leads.

“Our foundation is excited to be a part of this amazing expansion of Utah Olympic Park as we move toward hosting a future Olympic Winter Games,” said Eccles Foundation president and COO Lisa Eccles. “It’s going to build on Utah’s exceptional ability, and worldwide reputation, for youth ski races and elite athletes to develop into world-class competitors.”

The newly opened area boasts 10 lanes of advanced alpine and freestyle ski terrain that meets FIS qualifications for giant slalom and slalom runs.

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