PARK CITY, Utah — The second phase of a project designed to improve the training of the next generation of winter sports athletes is underway, and those involved expect the facilities to open this winter.
Construction crews expand West Peak at Utah Olympic Park as part of continued mission to invest in skiing and snowboarding. The project will create new terrain for an alpine and acrobatic training area on the mountain and provide winter athletes with a facility they can use at night.
“It’s an evolution of what we’ve been doing,” said UOP chief executive Jamie Kimball. “If you look at the wide range of training environments that we have…we have a place for everyone and it was sort of the natural evolution of that.”
The organization has been working on the project since at least 2010, but he said the idea of adding an alpine training component to the park came later. After realizing the need in the community, UOP began developing ideas to provide something different.
Local sports clubs and other community partners helped raise funds for the first phase of the project, which included the addition of a chair lift and a longer ski run for intermediate users. It opened at the end of 2019.
Kimball said the project was a huge success and questions about phase two began almost immediately. Despite momentum slowing in early 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, design development and fundraising work continued. The project was approved in late 2020, but UOP officials decided to put construction on hold.
Work began this summer when the rest of the funds were raised. The second phase will develop 25 acres of ski terrain consisting of two main runs as well as a new chairlift on the west side of the property. The training area will also be lit to allow athletes to train at night. Its opening is scheduled for December.
Kimball said development of West Peak had been envisioned since the park’s original design in the years leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The project aims to create a “home base” for training along the Wasatch Back.
It will also help ease the pressure on ski resorts by providing another training venue for young people. More than 1,000 Park City Ski & Snowboard Club members, along with several hundred more from other programs, are expected to use the facility, according to Kimball. It also has the potential to attract regional visitors.
“The terrain really closes the training loop, it creates a full circle for all ability levels, from learning to ski racing or freestyle skiing to elite level athletes, and there is no so no more gap in their training – period,” he said. “They can do everything here in their whole career at any time which is really amazing and it supports what current clubs are doing in the local community.”
The training area will not be open to the public, but Kimball said the whole community will benefit. The facility is expected to help reduce travel costs, expand training options and provide an after-school option for students. Discussions are underway about creating a pass that could allow the public access to certain ski slopes.
It is also possible that the area will be used in future Winter Olympics.
“As we started designing this and looking at this pitch, we realized how well this pitch blended into a number of different disciplines, so we started looking at it through the Olympic lens as well. Long term, it there’s definitely the potential to host multiple Olympic disciplines on this space depending on how things work with the other resorts here – we have potential, that’s for sure,” Kimball said.
He said he has heard positive feedback from those involved in the project, who say it is essential to the success of winter sports programs. UOP officials are also committed to ensuring that the facilities are well designed due to their visibility from Kimball Junction. There is a comprehensive revegetation plan to restore the hillside and integrate the works into the surrounding landscape.