Olympian Raney-Norman named Chair of Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games bid

To further efforts to create an athlete led Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid, the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee For The Games (SLC-UTAH) has named four-time Olympian speed skater Catherine Raney Norman to Chair the project that hopes to secure a second Winter Games for the state capital –  in either 2030 or 2034.

SLC-UTAH bid Chair Catherine Raney Norman

SLC-UTAH bid Chair Catherine Raney Norman (Photo: Sarah Brunson)

Raney Norman competed at four Winter Games from 1998 through 2010 and went on to become a respected voice for athletes serving on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s (USOPC) Athletes’ Advisory Council, rising to vice-chair. In 2012 she was named by the state governor to an exploratory committee tasked with bringing the Games back to Utah.

Steve Starks was named Vice Chair of the bid and will serve as the governor’s Olympic and Paralympic advisor to bridge the two bodies.

Those decisions, along with the appointment of 10 additional athletes to the committee, were made when the SLC-UTAH Committee met this week.

Current bid committee Chair Cindy Crane and President Fraser Bullock, along with Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall were involved in the discussions.

“As we move into a period of greater international engagement, having athletic-centric vision, input and oversight is vital to our efforts to bring the Games back to Utah,” Bullock said.

“As a future bid organization, we are really stewards of the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” Raney Norman told reporters.

“A major element of that stewardship is how we, in Utah, engage in all aspects of that movement to bring positive benefits to our communities,” she added.

Athletes added to the governing board were legendary U.S. Olympians and Paralympian including eight-time speed-skating medalist Apolo Ohno, downhill skiing champion Lindsey Vonn and four-time Paralympic medalist Monte Meier.

Joining the governing board are figure skating medalist Nathan Chen, Olympic nordic combined champion Billy Demong, three-time Olympic ice hockey medalist Meghan Duggan, Paralympic snowboard champion Noah Elliott, Olympic champion Ted Ligety, Paralympic champion cross country skier and biathlete Oksana Masters and Olympic luge silver medalist Chris Mazdzer.

Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah hosted venues for Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games (Wikipedia)

The Utah capital was elected by the USOPC in 2018 as the American nomination to bid for a future Winter Games after the city had been deemed more qualified than a rival bid from Denver.  It has since been involved in a ‘continuous dialogue’ with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that puts it into contention for a future Games.  Both 2030 and 2034 are being considered as possible editions to host.

Last December USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said the national federation had engaged in discussions with the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic organizing committee to better understand the impacts of of second Games in the United States only 18 months later, and how mutual revenue opportunities may suffer.

She said “because we’re the host of the LA ’28 Games it does add a layer of complexity to the discussions.”

Los Angeles has promised a no-build Olympic Games that leverages only existing or temporary venues allowing the event to turn a profit, and protecting that financial model will be a priority for organizers.  Salt Lake City has a similar proposal, with venues still in place from the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Utah.

Bids from Sapporo in Japan and Pyrenees-Barcelona in Spain were named by the IOC in January 2020 as potential candidates to host the Winter Games, but such announcements will no longer occur according to a new policy by the organization.  Instead, ongoing dialog between potential bidders and the IOC will happen in private.

With the delay and dampening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan it is now unclear whether proponents of the Sapporo bid are still interested in moving forward, but in recent months there has been interest from Vancouver in pursuing the 2030 edition to reprise Canada’s successful 2010 Games in the city.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board is meeting virtually and in Lausanne, Switzerland this week and could name Australia’s Brisbane as the nominated 2032 Summer Games host after hearing a report from the Future Host Commission Thursday.  The agenda does not include a report on Winter Games prospects for the sooner 2030 Games and there is no set schedule for the election of a host.

The continuous dialogue between the IOC and interested hosts occurs behind closed doors and those jurisdictions that participate are not officially named.

Hirshland said late last year that any decisions about timelines and Games dates would be made several months in the future while the safe staging of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games remains a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next Winter Olympics are set to be staged in Beijing, China next February 2022.  Italy will host the joint Milan-Cortina Games in 2026.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.