PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — For the past 22 seasons, the Utah Olympic Park aerials training facility has helped hundreds of athletes perfect their flips and spins.
Starting next summer, athletes who specialize in aerial ski jumping will have a brand-new training facility to use.
The facility, built in 1993, nine years prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics, is in need of major renovations.
Of all the Olympic venues, this one has been used the most. Athletes come from around the world to train at the Park City facility. If they flip, spin and fly, they’ve trained here and splashed into the pool below.
Now, the construction crews are dismantling the entire facility.
“Because we are at our capacity in the summer, every day from 8 in the morning until 7 p.m., we are packed, and we need to increase the capacity,” said Colin Hilton, CEO of the Olympic Legacy Foundation.
The venue is showing its age. The wood is warped, the paint is peeling, and the stairs now meander to the top of the ramps after years of use and weather.
The finished training center will feature more ramps, seven instead of four, so more skiers can train simultaneously. The pool will be enlarged, and the hillside will be regraded to allow training in newer Olympic events.
“What we’re creating now will accommodate our mogul skiers, but also our free skiers — slopestyle, halfpipe, and we hope in the future big air,” said Luke Bodensteiner, executive vice president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
This $3 million renovation is a joint effort by the Olympic Legacy Foundation and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. Athletes and coaches helped with the design.
The new structure will be prebuilt at a warehouse in Salt Lake City this winter and put in place in spring 2015. The new jumps are expected to open for training in summer 2015.
And yes, the renovation will indeed play a role when Utah considers hosting the Olympics again.
“It’s going to help position Utah for showing the world that we are the place to train for winter Olympic sports,” Hilton said, “and that will certainly help our Olympic bidding prospects when we get that chance.”