Leaders of Utah’s bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games are being joined by retired champion alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn at key meetings this week with International Olympic Committee officials in Switzerland, including IOC President Thomas Bach.
Vonn, who lives in Park City and serves on the governing board of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that’s behind the bid, made her Olympic debut at 17 during Utah’s first Winter Games, in 2002. She retired from the sport in 2019 and is considered the most successful female World Cup Alpine ski racer.
“Happy to help the US with their bid to get the Olympics back to Salt Lake City in 2030,” Vonn tweeted last week.
Other members of the delegation are the bid committee’s president and CEO, Fraser Bullock, the chief operating officer of the 2002 Winter Games; chairwoman Catherine Raney Norman, a speedskater who competed in four Olympics including in 2002; and consultant, Darren Hughes,
The Colorado Springs-based U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which selected Salt Lake City in 2018 to bid on behalf of the United States, is also sending its two top leaders to the Swiss meetings, CEO Sarah Hirshland and USOPC Board Chairwoman Susanne Lyons.
Although no state or local government representatives from Utah were initially said to be attending the meetings, the delegation list was updated Tuesday to include Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs Director Nubia Peña, Gov. Spencer Cox’s senior adviser on equity and opportunity and a member of the bid committee.
This marks the first time Utah’s bid team has traveled to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, under the new, less formal process for selecting Games hosts. Previous attempts to schedule time with IOC officials were upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wednesday meetings are expected to deal with the specifics of Utah’s plans for hosting another Olympics with a proposed price tag of $2.2 billion and are largely with the IOC’s staff. A trio of technical experts from the IOC quietly spent several days in Utah in April, examining the venues from 2002 that are set to be used again.
Vonn, who reportedly knows Bach well, is expected to meet separately with him.
Utah’s chief competition for the 2030 Winter Games is seen as Sapporo, Japan. Also in the race are Vancouver, Canada, and Barcelona, Spain, although that city’s effort to bid with the neighboring Pyrenees mountain region appears to have stalled over where venues should be located.
The IOC Executive Committee, led by Bach, is expected to make its choice in December with the final ratification by the full membership anticipated in May 2023. There is the possibility that sites for both 2030 and 2034 will be chosen at the same time.
While Utah’s bidders are focused on 2030, hosting that year is complicated by the 2028 Summer Games being in Los Angeles. Bullock said at a recent bid committee meeting that, “geopolitically, it’s hard for the IOC to award back-to-back Games in the U.S., for ’28 and for ’30.”
There’s also concern that the value of domestic sponsorships, a major source of revenue for U.S. Games that are funded without taxpayer dollars, could be negatively impacted should Salt Lake get the 2030 Winter Games. The USOPC, which shares in that revenue, has been working to resolve the issue behind the scenes.