Many Utahns, particularly journalists, came away from the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games a bit jaded. After all, the games—though well-run and successful (particularly in light of the Rio games)—also kicked off the never-ending Olympic site-selection scandals that in 2002 tarnished the reputations of dozens of local Oly boosters.
So, was it all worth it?
Based on economics and raising Utah’s profile, it apparently was, as evidenced in a New York Times article this week on “six former host cities worth visiting.” According to Bill Mallon, a founder of the International Society of Olympic Historians:
“For Winter, Lillehammer and Vancouver have been success stories, but probably none more so than Salt Lake City. They have really put the venues to good use.”
Exposure from the Games turned Utah into an international skiing destination, the article says. Resort visitors have grown from 3 million in 2002 to a record 4.5 million visitors in 2015. Not to mention that we’ve now got the largest ski resort in the U.S. in Park City,
Besides serving as training centers for future olympians, Utah’s sites pack tourists in year around.
“Getting to skate on the same ice as Olympians is an easy sell for locals and tourists, and braver visitors can ride a bobsled (no matter the season). Other summer activities at the park include extreme tubing, zip-lining and adventure courses.”