Excitement of Olympics revisited

Park City official opens mountain resorts conference

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— For a few brief moments the sense of excitement that swept through Steamboat Springs during the 2002 Winter Olympics came back as a Park City official shared his experiences in hosting the games.

Opening the four-day international conference on mountain resorts, Myles Rademan, Park City's public affairs director, mixed humor with a slide show as he explained how his city prepared and handled the stresses of hosting the Winter Olympics and more than a million visitors.

Bringing in $100 million in profit, heralded by the media for its friendliness and warmth and having more American medals than any other Winter Olympics, the Salt Lake Games were a success, Rademan said.

"We set the bar much higher than ever before," Rademan said. "There were a lot of dark days when some of us thought none of this would happen, but it did happen."

Rademan was the first speaker at the Mountain Resort Planning and Development in and Era of Globalization conference, which is sponsored by the University of Colorado and is being held in Steamboat until Saturday.

Among a roomful of elected officials, community planners, consultants and academics, Rademan said hospitality was key to the Olympics, welcoming the world and sustainability.

"What you do best in the hospitality business is being hospitable," Rademan said.

Rademan compared the 12 years that went into planning the Olympics to putting on a circus that was over in three days.

"We looked very hard for a lasting legacy. If we were going to spend all this money, we wanted to make sure it lasted longer than 17 days," Rademan said.

A common theme for the four-day conference, sustainability was crucial in planning for the Olympics, he said. Rademan said the $100 million profit will go back into maintaining the facilities the city built to host the Winter Games. And learning from the mistake of past host cities, he said the mammoth sport complexes will not deteriorate and turn into white elephants.

After visiting and studying past Olympic sites, planners borrowed the successful elements from Lillehammer's main street and the live concert events in Sydney.

Rademan joked they even borrowed the idea of the old Japanese ladies handing out free sake during the Nagano Games, which translated into green Jell-O in Utah.

"You have to do something that is natural to you," Rademan said.

Showing pictures of men dressed as Elvis in patriotic white jumpsuits, visitors warming their hands over the city's fire pits and a dog who had a camera attached to his head, Rademan said the main street was a party atmosphere for 17 days. Statistics showed 30 percent of those who came to Olympics never went to an event, he said.

Despite the heightened security of the yellow-jacketed security guards and hovering Black Hawk helicopters, downtown retained its light mood.

"What it turned out to be was a giant party," he said of the main street closed off for pedestrians.

These are lessons that Rademan believes will be passed onto other mountain resort towns that will one day house the Olympic flame. Hopefuls for the 2010 games Salzburg, Vancouver and Whistler were watching, he said.

Before discussing Park City's role in the 2002 Olympics, Rademan also talked about the challenges that face Park City and many other mountain resort towns.

Rademan said that not only did Park City have to compete with ski resorts such as Aspen and Steamboat, but it is competing with other vacation destinations such as Santa Fe, Disneyland, Las Vegas and cruise lines.

"The competition is fabulous," Rademan said. "We are always looking over our shoulders and it's not only ski resorts. We are literally competing with everyone."

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