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 facilities to open this winter.
Construction crews are expanding the West Peak at Utah Olympic Park as part of the ongoing mission to invest in skiing and snowboarding. The project will create new terrain for an alpine and freestyle training area on the mountain and provide winter athletes with a facility they can use at night.
“This is an evolution of what we’ve done,” said Jamie Kimball, the general manager of UOP. “If you look at the broad spectrum of training environments that we have … we have a spot for everyone and this was kind of just the natural evolution of that.”
The organization has been working toward 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 adding a chairlift and a longer ski run for intermediate users. It opened in late 2019.
Kimball said the project was a huge success and questions about phase two started almost immediately. Despite slowed down momentum in early 2020 from the coronavirus pandemic, work to develop the designs and raise funds continued. The project was approved in late 2020, but UOP officials decided to hold off on construction.
Work began this summer when the rest of the funds were raised. The second phase will develop 25 acres of ski terrain that consists of two main trails as well as a new chairlift on the property’s west side. The training area will also have lights to allow athletes to train at night. It’s expected to open in December.
Kimball said the development of the West Peak has been envisioned since the park was originally designed in the years before the 2002 Winter Olympics. This project is intended to create a “home base” for training along the Wasatch Back.
It will also help alleviate the pressure on ski resorts by providing another place for youth to train. More than 1,000 members of the Park City Ski & Snowboard Club as well as several hundred more from other programs are expected to utilize the facility, according to Kimball. It also has the potential to bring in regional visitors.
“Terrain really closes the training loop, it creates a full circle for all levels of ability, from learning to ski race or ski freestyle all the way up to the elite-level athletes, and so there’s no longer any 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 the current clubs are doing in the local community.”
The training area will not be open to the public, but Kimball said the entire community will benefit. The facility is expected to help alleviate travel costs, expand training options and provide an after-school option for students. There are ongoing discussions about creating a pass that may allow the public to access some of the ski runs.
It’s also possible the area may be used during a future Winter Olympics.
“As we started to design this and look at that terrain, we realized how well that terrain melded itself to multiple different disciplines, so we started to look at it through the Olympic lens as well. Long term, there is definitely the potential to host multiple Olympic disciplines on that space based on how things all work out with the other resorts here – we’ve got some potentials for sure,” Kimball said.
He said he’s heard positive feedback from those involved in the project, who say it’s critical to the success of winter-sports programming. UOP officials are also committed to ensuring the facilities are designed well due to their visibility from Kimball Junction. There is a full revegetation plan to restore the hillside and blend the work into the surrounding landscape.