Utah Olympic Movement Offers Platform To The Heber Valley

The movement for a 2030 Utah Winter Olympics is continuing to expand their footprint. Most recently a leader from the movement spoke with the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce.

See the original story at KPCW.org.

While speaking to the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation Director Collin Hilton praised the center as a public amenity and as a laboratory for future Olympic athletes.

“We are just as happy to have kids who learn life lessons through sports programs as much as we love to also celebrate the high achievers that happen to go on and represent the United States in biathlon, or cross-country skiing or whatever sport.” Hilton said, “I’m not after creating Olympians. Olympians are a byproduct of a good system that we create in these facilities.”

Hilton addressed the members of the chamber about the future Olympic bid. While 2030 is the most likely date for an Olympic bid, Hilton didn’t rule out a 2026 Olympic games.

“There is a selection process this June to pick the 2026 Olympic Winter and Paralympic games site.” Hilton explained, “There’s two cities left after about seven that were initially in that. Most recently you probably heard that Calgary was interested and then they had a vote to the people that said, ‘no thanks.’ That’s been happening a lot in the Olympic world. Stories like Sochi that spent $52 billion on hosting a games in Russia. In Brazil, they did not have a plan and their facilities are decaying and falling by the wayside after spending lots of money on them. Those stories are why most regions of the world are going ‘eh not really worth it, and we don’t want to use public funds to do that.’”

Leaders in the Utah Olympic movement believe the games could be funded without taxpayer dollars.

“We can do this with all private funds with the exception of security costs which would come from the federal government.” Hilton continued, “Instead of $52 billion like the Russians spent. We forecast in 2018 dollars we could do this for $1.3 billion. B is a big number too, but most of those funds come from broadcast TV revenues, sponsorships, those kinds of elements. We feel very optimistic that there’s a new model of how the games should be run. We can actually showcase that here in Utah. We are innovators and we are ones who love to rally behind the cause that we believe in.”

Hilton said they have a vision of shifting the objective of the host city during the games from pleasing the international community to advancing objectives of the host cities.

“It’s not in some places all about growth and economic development.” Hilton said, “For Salt Lake City it might be a catalyst to address air quality issues. For Park City it’s about addressing public transportation systems. What I leave you with is what does Heber Valley want to look like in 2030? What local visions do we want to be able to showcase to the world? How do we want to say this is who we are as a region? The Olympics always represent a very inspirational and a very terrific accelerant to getting to a point where the community wants to be, and it can be a tool to bring in resources that you might not otherwise get. So the biggest trouble is defining what it is that you want.”

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.