SLC, Ski Culture and Snowmobiling. Oh my!
As some of you may have noticed I was off this week from the 3rd and 3 Podcast. Shoutout to my amazing co-hosts Jason Feirman and Damian Adams for holding it down in my absence. They did a fantastic job as always. I spent this past week in Park City, Utah snow tubing and snowmobiling in the mountains. Now, normally this is not my thing at all, I am a lay by the pool with a drink in my hand kind of girl, but this trip was a (very late) birthday present for my husband. Our birthdays are both in September and he loves riding his quad, snowmobiling, tubing, roller coasters, jet skiing or anything else that will give you an adrenaline rush. Well, September and October didn’t work out for a quad riding trip due to work schedules and existing travel plans that we just couldn’t move. Ok no problem. I thought to myself let’s make this a snowmobiling trip instead and be there around Christmastime. Turns out Park City didn’t have any snow at the time (not until the very end of Dec) and the only time they could move our reservation was to this week. So, we ended up in Park City during the Winter Olympics and Valentines Day. Does anything EVER go to plan? Not in my world. What’s that saying? If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans? I’d say he got a pretty good laugh out of this one.
Funny thing about plans. You get upset when things don’t originally work out the way you intended but sometimes you end up in the right place at the right time. I don’t know if any of you have ever been to Park City or Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics, but it is an amazing experience. First off, becoming immersed in winter sports/ski culture is incredibly interesting to learn about. Second off, there are Olympic watch parties everywhere in Park City and there are so many hometown athletes that the entire community is just consumed in everything Olympics.
By the 3rd day I had my fill of snowmobiling and winter sports. Don’t get me wrong, snowmobiling to the viewpoints of the mountains is breathtakingly beautiful however I thought I was going to have a heart attack every minute of the trip up the mountains. Have you ever done something that you hated every second of but, in the end, you were glad you did it? That’s pretty much how I felt this week. Terrified but pushed myself out of my comfort zone anyway. Like an Olympian would. Well, at least that's what I told myself to keep going up the mountain.
One of the best parts of the snowmobile trip was stopping at one of the viewpoints on the mountain and seeing an Eagle fly over us. You don’t get to experience that every day, so it was nice to just take in the beauty of nature. But, by day 3 I was ready for something else. I booked a tour at the Olympic Park and decided to spend some of my afternoon there. And I am so glad I did.
If you ever get the chance to visit the Olympic Park, I highly recommend it. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable, and you may even see a Moose along the way as you drive up the canyon! Being that I did this tour in the Winter obviously the activities they run in the summer (like zip lining) were not available. Not that I would have zip lined anyway, baby steps on the adrenaline rushes for me. You can also take a bobsled ride for a cool $200 but once I found out almost everyone pees themselves, throws up or gets lightheaded and dizzy I passed on that. And again, baby steps and all.
As you walk into the visitor center you check in and wait for your tour group to arrive. I was early because I run on Tom Coughlin time and if you’re not 10 min early you’re late. And if you’re 20 min early you are right on time. Anyway, I was glad for the extra time because I got to explore the Ski Museum before the tour started. The exhibit started off with The Barbara Alley Collection which showcased 30 years of Ski Fashion. Right. Up. My. Ally. I don’t ski but I wanted to after seeing all the Ski outfits and the learning about the history of Ski fashion. After that, you take a journey through the history of skiing as an Olympic sport and there are interactive exhibits you can do as well. I wrapped up with 5min to spare before the tour started. In case you are wondering, the tour did not start on time because yes, people were late.
So, we start out and learn about the Bobsled, Skeleton and Luge apparatuses and then it’s outside to check out the Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool and ski jumping areas. Did you know- the athletes practice their jumps by landing in the pool? I didn’t know either, but our guide explained that it’s a lot easier to land in the water than the snow. Makes sense. After the pool we are on the bus for a multi-stop trip up the canyon.
First stop on the canyon is the top of the Luge track followed by a look at the Bobsled track which is where we learn about all the bodily functions that can happen to you on a Bobsled ride. Damn those G Forces. Did you know - it is not uncommon for the staff to find a Moose just chilling on the Bobsled track. I found that amusing. Next stop was the top of the Nordic Jump which is the 2nd safest Winter Olympic sport. Being at the top of this jump was unsettling and mesmerizing at the same time because wow, there are people in this world who jump off these things like it’s no big deal. The bravery, sheer will and insanity of athletes never ceases to amaze me.
I learned so much about the athletes and their training process and how skiing basically seems to be a rich person’s sport. Most kids start between 3-5 years old and are typically on a team until they are about 18 years old. 18 is when they need to find a sponsor because the Olympics are end game for most of them and the costs just keep going up. Did you know- that a practice pair of skis will run you about $1000? A practice pair. But skiing is serious business in Park City and most of the Ski coaches and trainers are ex-athletes or former Olympians. And some of them really rake in the dough. Our guide touched on the changing demographics of Park City a little bit and told us that there has been an influx of Tech Bro’s moving to Park City from California and they are spending big bucks to get their 5-year-old the best ski training money can buy. Interesting. A tech boom in Ski country. Stay tuned for how that plays out.
As we made our way back down the canyon, we had to stop for like 5 minutes to watch a pair of Moose in the nearby mountain and thus we proceeded to learn all about the Moose on our way back. Did You Know – the Moose is the 2nd deadliest animal behind the Hippo? Apparently, Moose do not give AF about humans and will mess you up if and when they see fit. Our guide assured us that typically Moose aren’t the aggressive type though. #SureJan
Once back at the museum we were free to roam about the cabin. I headed up to the 2nd floor and walked through the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Museum. It was fascinating and amazing. The puppets used in the opening ceremony were in there along with all the medals and each exhibit was designated for a sport. You can even take a picture in front of a recreated small scale Olympic torch. Funny, it didn’t even occur to me to ask someone to take my picture in front of the mini torch until I was halfway back to my hotel. My selfie and picture game in general is horrible. I get so caught up in the moment that the last thing I think about is taking a selfie. Call me an old Millennial, I guess.
Remember the theme for the 2002 Olympics? “Light the Fire Within” well you can thank world-renowned photographer John Huet for that. To capture the essence of the Olympics he aimed his lens inward to capture the spirit of an Olympic Athlete. Huet isolated the athletes from their environments opting for a clean indoor space. He then had the athletes dangle from harnesses, skate on imaginary ice and had them aim for invisible finish lines. Huet kept shooting until he had thousands of images for the Salt Lake designers to pick from. The result was a revolutionary new look for the Olympic Winter Games. The portraits of the athletes became the face of Salt Lake 2002 and sparked “Light the Fire Within”
The fire that was lit in Salt Lake City 20 years ago still burns today. You feel it as soon as you set foot into the city and the energy is contagious. SLC and Park City shine bright with Olympic spirit, pride, determination, and the unrelenting drive to be great and its those same elements that make up an Olympian. So it comes as no surprise that Salt Lake City is the embodiment of one.