Olympic and Paralympic athletes demonstrated strength, diligence and composure under pressure. It is therefore not surprising that the International The Olympic Committee has made it a priority to involve athletes more in the organization of the Games.
In an effort to reflect this new direction as it looks to host its second Olympics in 2030 or 2034, the Salt Lake City-Utah Games Committee announced structural changes this week. He installed quadruple Olympic speed skater Catherine Raney Norman as his president and named 10 additional athletes – including Nathan Chen, Ted Ligety and Lindsay Vonn – to his strategic board.
“I’m ready for this job because I represent the athletes,” Norman Raney said Thursday at a board meeting at the Utah Olympic Oval, “and the athletes represent the heart and the core of the Olympic movement. “
Former co-chair of the Athlete Advisory Committee, Raney Norman will replace Cindy Crane. Enchant Energy CEO Crane has been its chairman since the formation of the organizing committee in February 2020.
Steve Starks, who had been appointed to the board by Gov. Spencer Cox, has been appointed vice-chairman and will serve as an intermediary between the committee and the governor’s office.
The IOC has called for greater representation of athletes in its roadmap for the organization of the Games, called Olympic Agenda 2020 + 5. And the list of athletes the Salt Lake group added to the strategic board reads like a who’s who of current and recent Winter Olympians with ties to the state.
It’s by design, said Chris Waddell, chair of the athlete advisory committee. Athletes on the Strategic Council will be invited to draw on their Olympic Games experiences and offer advice to Salt Lake City organizers. They will also be the ambassadors for the Utah Games.
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Chen is originally from Salt Lake City and favorite for the gold medal in men’s figure skating for Beijing 2022. Park City residents Ligety and Vonn (she is back) are two of the brightest Olympic skiers in history the United States. And they will be joined by seven other renowned Olympic and Paralympic winter athletes. Among them, Chris Mazder, resident of Murray, the first American to win a medal in luge; US Olympic Hall of Fame speed skater Apolo Ohno; Oksana Masters, an eight-time Paralympic medalist who plans to compete in the Tokyo and Beijing Games; gold medalist Paralympic snowboarder Noah Elliott; former USA Hockey captain Meghan Duggan; Nordic combined gold medalist Billy Deong; and Monte Meier, a Paralympic gold medalist skier.
Their addition gives the Salt Lake City-Utah Games Committee a total of 21 athlete representatives. Waddell said the plan is to add even more athletes with the goal of having them represent 33% of the committee, which has made “Athletes First” one of his guiding principles.
Demong said that as an athlete he saw the resources of the Nordic Combined – which combines ski jumping and cross-country skiing – continually decrease until funding was completely cut by US Ski & Snowboard shortly. long after winning his gold medal in 2010. He had ideas on how to prevent its deterioration, he said, but couldn’t employ them until he became executive director of USA Nordic.
So it’s refreshing, Deong said, to have the athletes’ opinions not only heard but welcomed.
“There was a little bit of feeling between us or them in some of the old guard sports federations,” he said. “But I think in the United States there is an openness to having representation, and in Salt Lake City and in local sports organizations, it’s adopted. And this for a long time. “
The committee’s board of directors met on Wednesday. It has made no decision on whether the Salt Lake City area should bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2030 or 2034. It has, however, started to contract with competition venues that cover both windows. .