Reflections on the 2002 Winter Olympics

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Editor’s note: this story pairs with “Utah explores possibility of second Olympic bid”

This February marks 16 years since the 2002 Winter Olympics were hosted in Salt Lake City, and now there’s a potential for Utah to make a bid for the 2026 or 2030 winter games.

In a poll published in November 2017, 89 percent of Utahns said they support Utah’s quest to host another Winter Olympics.

Betsy Cundick and her husband, Tom, were members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when it performed throughout the Olympics. Prior to that, Cundick and her husband spent more than 100 volunteer hours each processing accreditation passes for anyone involved with the games.

During the games, Cundick performed with the choir in evening performances at the LDS Conference Center.

“It was a lot of fun,” Betsy Cundick said. “It was a lot of hours, but really fun stuff. You just don’t get a chance every day to do this kind of thing.”

7 Facts about the 2002 Winter Olympics. Graphic created by Rebecca Sumsion.

A highlight for Cundick was participating in the opening ceremonies with the choir. Members had to endure freezing temperatures during the rehearsal and actual opening ceremonies, but she enjoyed being able to see the athletes up close as they walked in near where the choir was located. Cundick even noted that a few choir members got to high-five President George W. Bush.

Performing for a worldwide audience “was a little bit intimidating because you….don’t want to make mistake or have a solo. You also want to represent the church well. We were excited to be able to do it.”

Olympic volunteer Allison Christensen recalled the excitement that was present during the opening ceremonies. As a “yellow coat” volunteer, Christensen helped with ticketing, ushering and other customer service duties.

“For me, it was the experience of the lifetime,” Christensen said. “The coolest moment of the whole thing was being in the opening ceremonies where they lit the torch and the Dream Team came in and it was just electric. I will never forget that.”

Throughout the course of the Olympics, downtown Salt Lake City was filled with activities and entertainers. Jim Webster had the opportunity to perform with his group, The Clean Up Crew. Webster and his fellow performers auditioned their trash can drumming routine for Coca-Cola executives. The company hired them to perform in downtown Salt Lake City and in Park City.

“One thing that I thought was fun about it,” Webster said, “was that after our audition, Coca-Cola actually made some trash can drummer Olympic pins. We were able to get just a few special pins that were made after us and that was an exciting thing.”

Webster and his group performed solo concerts, roamed the streets playing, accompanied the Odyssey Dance Theatre and once performed while wearing the Coca-Cola bear costume.

“For me, it was just a really cool atmosphere,” Webster said. “ It was a great way to show off Salt Lake to people from all over.”

Webster, Christensen and Cundick all agreed it would be exciting for Utah to host the Olympic games again.

“I think in general I would be excited,” Webster said. “I definitely wouldn’t mind if we had the Olympics again.”

Google Map of the Olympic Venues used for the 2002 Olympic Games. Map created by Rebecca Sumsion.

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