Counting Down The Days: Park City is already preparing to host the Winter Games

Four years may seem like a long time, but not when you’re setting up to host the Olympics. At Park City, construction and planning are already underway for the 2002 Winter Games, and according to Jeff Boliba, snowboard manager, summers are going to be very busy.

“The plans for the Olympics are unbelievable,” he says. “We’ve got a huge project ahead of us. But we’re not taking on more than we can handle, so I think we’ll have everything ready by 2002.”

Park City will be one of three resorts in Utah to host the Games, namely the GS and halfpipe snowboard events. According to Boliba, the snowboard staff is in charge of all the on-snow details, right up until opening ceremonies, then their duties end. “We do everything leading up to it and then the FIS and the IOC take over for the two weeks of the Olympics,” he says. “We’ll be building the halfpipe and getting everything ready, but during the event they will have their own people in charge of running and maintaining everything.”

Boliba says that though he would like to have more contact with the FIS, the organization has essentially been absent when it comes to planning and preparation. “For the most part we don’t have contact with them,” he says. Boliba has presented the FIS with the idea of including boardercross as an event in 2002 and says they are considering it.

A handful of Park City staff attended the Olympics in Nagano last February, including: Karen Korfanta, who’s in charge of the race department; Brian Straight, vice president of mountain operations; John Cumming, president and general manager of Park City; and David Cumming, executive vice president of hospitality. Upon their return, Boliba says everyone involved in planning for the Games sat down and discussed what they thought Japan did right and wrong when it came to the snowboard events. “They had it pretty dialed,” Boliba says.

According to Korfanta, Park City is trying to remain flexible, especially when it comes to planning for the events: “The main thing is because snowboarding is a relatively new sport and is changing, we’re prepared to change with it. Right now we’re in the process of studying the event venues. We need to be flexible, there’s a lot of things that aren’t set in stone.” The location of the pipe is still in discussion, but the GS course has been chosen.

Though the halfpipe currently constructed at Park City will not be used for the Olympics, the specs will be identical. “We work a with sixteen- to seventeen-degree pitch on the halfpipe,” Boliba describes. “It’s 350- to 400-feet long with ten-foot walls and one foot of vert.” For cutting the pipe, Park City currently has a 1998 model of the Pipe Dragon but according to Boliba they plan on acquiring the 1999 model. Designed entirely of aluminum, the new model has the same working power and is 1,000 pounds lighter than its predecessor. Boliba describes this new Pipe Dragon as “an animal,” and says it cuts work time in half.

Since it opened to snowboarding two year ago, there has been a dramatic change in the attitude toward the sport at Park City. “This resort used to be run by a bunch of ski Nazis,” he says. “But they’ve hired some new people who’ve really embraced snowboarding-a lot better than some of the other resorts I’ve worked at.”

Boliba, a longtime snowboarder, came to Park City soon after it announced it would open to snowboarding. “I talked them into building a snowboard park and convinced them to start a snowboard department,” he says. “It’s exciting what I’ve been able to accomplish here and the support and backing I’ve received from the owners. I think that really shows a commitment on their part. It show’s they’ve changed-they’re no longer ski Nazis.”