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As Utah seeks to host 2nd Olympics, upgrades continue

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Utah’s Olympic Park has announced an $11 million expansion to renovate training facilities and strengthen the state’s bid to host a second Winter Olympics.

Officials said at a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday that the project will add as many 10 new ski runs over the next five years, including some that will be suitable for world-class competitions, The Salt Lake Tribune reports .

New mountain bike trails are also planned on about 30 acres of mountainside at the Park City site that hosted bobsled, skeleton, luge, ski jumping and Nordic combined events during the 2002 Games.

The changes are part of a series of improvements in the works and planned at facilities used in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. State lawmakers said this year they are committed to spending nearly $40 million in taxpayer dollars over the next decade to maintain and upgrade the facilities even if Salt Lake City isn’t selected to host another Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic Committee last year chose Salt Lake City over Denver as a future bid city. Salt Lake City is hoping to be selected to host the 2030 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee will choose a 2030 host by 2023 at the latest.

Utah’s capital city is among an increasingly small group of cities worldwide that has the venues needed for winter sports and the willingness to take on the costly task of hosting Olympics that have lost some of their cache.

Utah philanthropist Spence Eccles, 84, said he hopes Utah’s next opportunity to host the Winter Olympics comes in 2030, not 2034. Eccles served on the Salt Lake’s 2002 Olympic Organizing Committee.

“I’m not sure I’ll make it to 100,” Eccles joked.

Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation CEO Colin Hilton said the improvements will also help recruit people who want to learn how to ski and snowboard.

Heather McPhie-Watanabe, a moguls skier who competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, said she first moved to Utah almost two decades ago from Montana to take advantage of Utah Olympic Park. She said it helped her improve her mogul jumping techniques.

“I’m just thrilled with this expansion project and what it’s going to be able to do for future athletes,” she said.