These Utahns will travel to the Paris Olympics for a decision on the 2034 Winter Games


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah delegation heading to Paris to make a final pitch on Pioneer Day, July 24, for the 2034 Winter Games includes state and local elected leaders as well as Olympians, Paralympians and a trio of young up-and-coming athletes.

"It would be a amazing thing to bring back to America," declared 16-year-old Heber City figure skater Kate Pressgrove, winner of U.S. Figure Skating's 2022 Mable Fairbanks Skatingly Yours Developmental Award for promising Black, Indigenous and people of color in the sport.

Kate, along with Riverton luger Orson Colby and Farmington speedskater Emma De Bock, were invited by the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that's behind the bid to go to Paris to represent Utahns who participate in youth sports programs at venues first used for the 2002 Winter Games.

What Kate said she wants to share there is "just the richness and diversity of both our nature and our sports" in Utah.

Her mother, Lisa Pressgrove, beamed as she recorded Kate's appearance at the bid committee's Tuesday news conference previewing the Paris trip. "She is thrilled, beyond belief, to be able to go," Pressgrove told a reporter later. "It kind of pushes her, just being part of the whole Olympic thing."

The International Olympic Committee is set to vote on whether the Olympics are coming back to the state after the bid presentation, set for 3 a.m. local time. An event to watch a livestream from the French capital and celebrate the anticipated award is being held at the Salt Lake City-County Building.

Bid committee officials are busy this week putting the finishing touches on the half-hour scripted presentation with videos that will be made to the around 100 members of the IOC gathered for an annual session ahead of the start of the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. Preparations included holding a rehearsal with Gov. Spencer Cox at the Governor's Mansion on Monday.

Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, the only elected officials listed as part of the seven-member presentation team, will highlight "Utah's vibrant economy and diverse culture" for the IOC, according to a bid committee news release. Mendenhall will also address sustainability efforts.

Other elected officials in the delegation are: Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton; Utah House Speaker Mike Schultz, R-Hooper; Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson; Park City Mayor Nann Worel; and state Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, co-chairman of the Utah Legislature's Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Coordination Committee.

Athletes outnumber the elected officials in the delegation, with Olympic champion skier Lindsey Vonn and Paralympic Nordic skier Dani Aravich participating in the presentations. Vonn, the bid's chief of athlete experience, will talk about plans for a first-ever athlete family village in 2034, and Aravich, about how Utah helped provide her a pathway to become a world champion.

Also presenting are Fraser Bullock, the bid committee's president and CEO and the chief operating officer of the 2002 Winter Games; four-time Olympic speedskater Catherine Raney Norman, the bid committee's chairwoman; and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Chair Gene Sykes, who is expected to be named to the IOC in Paris.

"Just being there, in front of the Olympic world ... it just gives me chills to think about that," Bullock said at the news conference. "We're going to speak from the heart. Because Utah loves the Games. We know the benefit that the Games provide to our wonderful young athletes, our incredible Olympians and Paralympians, and the value of sport. We understand that. We feel that."

Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, speaks during a Paris preview event held by his organization at Kiln in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.
Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, speaks during a Paris preview event held by his organization at Kiln in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. (Photo: Isaac Hale, Deseret News)

He said the presentation will focus on the vision for another Winter Games in Utah, elevating sports, communities and the Games experience, providing the proposed master plan that calls for a single athlete village at the University of Utah, with all of the venues — nearly all the same as in 2002 — no more than an hour away.

Bullock joked that "our biggest challenge is not to cry."

Raney Norman, who competed in the 2002 Games, will highlight the legacy of those Olympics and Paralympics for both athletes and communities. She said there's an "outstanding lineup of athletes" in the delegation, including those still aspiring to the highest levels of competition.

"When we think about a future Games, it's really about our aspiring athletes. And it's about their dreams," Raney Norman said. "We're the caretakers and the stewards of their dreams going forward."

The Olympic and Paralympic athletes traveling as part of the delegation are Brigham Young University basketball's Jimmer Fredette, who'll compete in the 2024 Summer Games in Paris; Olympic champions Derek Parra and Erin Jackson; Paralympic champions Chris Waddell and Brittani Coury; and Olympian Kaysha Love.

Bullock said there are about 100 Utahns going to Paris on behalf of the bid, including some of the donors who've helped cover the $4 million cost of the privately funded bid. The IOC is assisting with transportation and hotel costs for the governor and Salt Lake City mayor, he said, but other elected officials are covering their own expenses.

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