Park City is preparing to host the cities largest sporting event since the 2002 Winter Olympics, that event of course being the FIS World Championships the first week of February. Meanwhile the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center is also preparing for it’s largest sporting event since the ’02 Olympics.
The International Biathlon Union World Cup makes nine stops during the season. For the first time the tour is including a stop at Soldier Hollow. The event takes place the weekend before president’s day February 14-17th and will feature over 180 athletes from 28 nations. Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation board member Courtland Nelson says that biathlon is popular in Europe, comparable to hockey in the U.S. The IBU World Cup event at Soldier Hollow will have about 25 million viewers of the event.
“This is our chance to be on that international stage again.” Nelson explained, “It won’t happen every year but if we do well, we might have an opportunity for every other year or every third year hosting another world cup. It’s going to bring that kind of international attention to Heber Valley.”
Former general manager at Soldier Hollow Phil Jordan reports that biathlon was the events that sold out first during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Jordan is volunteering to help create the Legacy Winter Fest which will coincide with the World Cup. He says the two events will be a blend of Nordic ski culture and western US culture. The weekend will include music from a Slovakian rock star as well as country western line dancing.
“We’re also looking at the opportunity to actually experience some of the biathlon skills.” Jordan continued, “A laser biathlon also a paintball biathlon. We’re going to be putting in a skating rink a small one do a little bit of skating and maybe do some curling demonstrations as well. We’ll have pin trading along with face painting for the kids. Along with that great food. We’ll have seven to nine food trucks coming in for those days. Plus, we’ll have some pin trading along the lines of bull riding, so we’re going to have a mechanical bull out here as well. We’re going to spice it up into the American West, why? We’re going to have millions of people on the other side of those cameras watching us. We’re have an opportunity to show once again as we did in 2002 how these Nordic sports feel at home here in the American West.”
Current Soldier Hollow general manager Stuart Ashe has no doubt that Biathlon Manger Zach Hall will be able to put on a great event.
“I know Zach and our snow makers can put on a great race.” Ashe said, “We’ll be judged by how many people we can get out to the event. We need everybody’s help in doing that.”