The Utah action sports landscape has changed again as the Utah Sports Commission and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association recently announced a new partnership with the Olympic governing body to bring five new events to three Utah resorts.
The stage is set. Top athletes from around the world are ready to compete in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. In the meantime, Utah continues to further its winter Olympic heritage by adding a new action sports series. This new series brings major skiing and snowboarding events to Utah’s Canyons Resort, Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort during both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 competition seasons.
“This action sports series will provide an estimated $15 million in economic impact and $5 million in media value to Utah, and is a welcome extension of Utah’s success in continuing its Olympic legacy,” Governor Gary R. Herbert said in a news release. “The event again underscores why Utah is The State of Sport.”
Ten years ago, Utah hosted the Winter Olympics. Since that historic event, Utah has also hosted some of the most successful summer and winter Dew Tour events, setting attendance records in four summer events and two winter events. Earlier this year, Dew Tour officials decided not to renew their contract with Utah resorts for the upcoming season, leaving athletes and the state with a diminished schedule – until now.
“Utah’s resorts have become a hub for action sports, providing both a great atmosphere for Olympic level competitive events as well as a productive environment for long term athlete training,” said Bill Marolt, president and CEO of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “More and more of America’s top winter sports athletes are making our Utah-based Center of Excellence their training base. We’re proud to bring our Visa Freestyle International World Cup and Sprint U.S. Grand Prix events to our home state.”
Jen Hudak, a native of Hamden, Conn., is one of the athletes looking forward to competing in the new series. Hudak trains in Park City and is a 3-time X Games champion and 2-time World Championship medalist in halfpipe skiing.
“Eight years ago I moved to Utah with the dream that I would one day be able to compete in the Olympics for my sport of halfpipe skiing – now that dream is becoming reality,” Hudak said. “The Olympic culture in Utah truly breeds success and serves as a constant inspiration for me to continue working hard. Winning a World Championship silver medal at Park City in 2011 was one step closer to fulfilling that dream. I look forward to having more events at home to prepare me for the big show in 2014.”
Utah attracts athletes from all over, but it also breeds its own top-level talent. Faye Gulini, from Salt Lake City, competes in snowboardcross, a sport where participants race through a course on snowboards. She competed in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, won a silver medal at the 2012 Sprint U.S. Grand Prix in Park City and is currently ranked No. 16 in the world.
“Being born and raised in Utah has been such a great experience for me,” Gulini said. “Last season when I took second at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix it was such a highlight of my season to … get on the podium in my home state. It is indescribable to explain the pride and support I feel when I get to compete at home.”
Global TV and digital broadcasts of the events will include NBC, NBC Sports, Universal Sports and others with a mix of live, taped and streaming coverage. The series will culminate with the announcement of the first ever Olympic Freeskiing Team in January 2014.