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Our SLC Olympic trip (long) - thanks Salt Lake!

post #1 of 2
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First off, thanks to all the locals who responded to my earlier post with advice about Salt Lake. I actually checked epicski at the AT&T lounge in Olympic Square once we got there.

We got into SLC Friday night, from Denver (8 hour drive) and parked at the Liberty Park park and ride and caught the shuttle into Olympic Square down town. Right off the bus the scalpers were active and we purchased two tickets for the men's 4 man bobsled finals on Saturday for $50.00 each. I was pretty sure I had paid too much, but at least we had our tickets and would be able to see an Olympic event. Olympic Square was a great time; we waited maybe 15 minutes in line to get to the security check. Enviously watching the medal ceremony and that nights concert ticket holders breezing through the preferred entrance with hardly a wait. We spent the time talking to the locals and getting our first taste of the Olympic experience. Once inside it was a party environment, everyone was really happy to be there, tons of people just enjoying themselves. We checked out most of the stuff, avoiding the longer lines until they went down. Once the nightly parade started, the giant line into the Olympic super store went from 300 people down to less then 20 and we walked right in. I was pretty surprised at the lack of variety of merchandise. They created a giant store but there just wasn't a whole lot to choose from. I was expecting anything and everything you could think of with an Olympic logo slapped on it, but it wasn't the case. We got the idea that Coke is a big part of SLC based on their sponsorship of the square. The virtual games were a hoot to watch, they really did a great job.

Saturday morning we went to Park City. We were all prepared for the traffic jam of our life. Everything we had read on the official website had warned you about getting an early start and setting aside plenty of time to get to your venue. Much to our surprise there was absolutely no traffic to speak of. Being from Denver we consider traffic to mean bumper to bumper stop and go on a highway designed for 65 mph traffic. We drove right into the park and ride about 2 hours ahead of schedule. Main street park city is really pretty, it reminds me of a smaller Telluride. As we walked Main Street, we saw the giant line of people waiting in line at the Roots store. The USA red, white and blue Roots hat had turned into the hot Olympic memento and there were at least 200 people waiting for the store to open. We had a nice breakfast at the Eatery and explored the town until time for bob sled event just down the road at the Olympic Park. That morning we learned that the remaining closing ceremony tickets were going for only $400-$500 at the Official ticket sellers, which was almost half of the face value of $885. We started thinking how great it would be to go to the closing ceremonies on Sunday, and with tickets already that low, the chances were really good that they would be lower by Sunday. We talked it over and set our maximum amount we were willing to spend at $200 each. If we could find tickets for that price we would bite the bullet and go.

We arrived at the bobsled track about an hour early and joined the thousands already there. We waited in line maybe 5-10 minutes, enjoying the crazy characters running around and watching the energetic fans that had come in costumes or painted up to cheer on the 2 USA teams. We took the buses up and chuckled that the buses were all from Denver; we traveled 8 hours to ride our own RTD busses to the event! We had never been to a bobsled event so we had no idea what to expect. We found a spot on turn 12 and hung out until the start. Everyone was extremely friendly and excited about the USA teams chances for medalling since team 1 was actually in first place going into the finals. The first sled came by, you can hear it just up the track and as soon as you hear it, it fly's by you in a blur. Realizing that all you were going to do was see a flash every time a run was made we decided to mosey up the run a little at a time. This was a great way to see the event, we would move up the track after each run and you got a great overall picture of what was gong on. The finish area is actually in the middle of the track since they have to go up hill to stop, this was a really exciting place to be since you saw them get out of the sled and the fans for each country just went wild. We ended up taking the Silver and Bronze, breaking our medal drought from 1956. If anybody still thinks the Olympics aren't about winning medals you just need to be at an event and watch the entire crowd get behind your country's team. The chant of USA, USA, USA was deafening.

Sunday we went skiing at Alta. We parked at Wildcat base and took the Wildcat lift up. I was really amused to be on a two man chair out of a base area, I haven't experienced that since I was in my teens skiing in upstate NY. Alta was deserted, at least by our standards; there were never more than 3-4 people in front of you on a lift line. We skied Rock Gully and Wildcat Face a few times, then headed up the Germania lift. We wanted to ski Glory Hole so we started moving along the High Traverse and ended up having to go up hill to the gate. Later we discovered you could get into the same place from Devil's way! From there we explored the black runs under the sugar loaf quad and after lunch ripped up everything we could find around the Supreme lift. We spent quite a bit of time making our own runs through the trees and finding our way out un-unskied snow filled gullies. Alta was fantastic. It was such a pleasure to see all the helps faces in Alf's restaurant wind and sun burned. It was obvious that the help takes advantage of their free time and skis the mountain. The food was also a great change of pace. $15 hamburgers at Vail get old after a while. The snow was great, probably the best we've had all year, 6 inches to 18 inches of nice light powder in some places. What is really cool about Alta, is it has as much terrain as Breckenridge, but the parking lots are as small as most of the small family resorts I skied growing up back in NY, I can't ever imagine the mountain gets crowded in a way we are familiar with. For most of the day it felt like we had rented the entire resort for ourselves.

We got back into town about 5:00pm and headed up to Rice-Eccles stadium to see how we could do on scalping some tickets to the closing ceremonies. As soon as we got off the bus we discovered that tickets were now going from $250 a seat. We immediately realized we would be going to the ceremonies since they would only be gong lower as the starting time approached. We ended up paying $100 each and were shocked that we ended up very close to the 50-yard line! The process of getting our tickets got real old, real fast, the scalpers all work together, holding the price for as long as possible, so they get really obnoxious after awhile. The cops all stood around just watching, I was sure that they just hated the entire process and would have loved to cuffed the 20-30 scalpers running around yelling and screaming. The closing ceremonies were utterly fantastic, what an event! I've seen a lot of really top of the line venues and entertainment, but these ceremonies were unlike anything I had witnessed before. The neon stick men and the forming of the Olympic event logos out of random neon shapes, along with Moby's music and the neon glowing paints being spread on the ice was excellent. Everybody had a package attached to their seat when the arrived, you had a colored smock to wear and a flashlight and other items to participate in the event. You really felt like you were party of the process. Of course the fire works were killer and really topped things off.

The Olympics were probably a once in a lifetime event for me, and I'm really glad we just loaded up and drove out. Everyone in SLC, thanks for what you did, you should be really proud of yourselves and your city, you hosted a world-class event and did it with style.
post #2 of 2
Sounds like you had a very good time, please come back whenever you get a chance. I to learned how great of a town SLC is after moving here from the midwest a year and a half ago. I cannot imagine living elsewhere. Alta is a great resort, and only crowded on busy days, nothing like some resorts that I have skied, and they limit ticket sales, so crowds are never as bad as you could think. A busy day at Alta is a 5 minute wait in the lift line.
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