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Reno/Tahoe making run at hosting 2022 Winter Olympics

Matthew Renda
Nevada Appeal News Service

OLYMPIC VALLEY – The 1960 Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley USA transformed the Lake Tahoe Basin from a sleepy playground to a bustling recreation destination.

Many of the hotels, motels and vacation rentals were built in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. The famed sporting event also helped create the highway system around the lake.

Regional officials are hoping to replicate that transformation as efforts to bring the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to the Reno/Tahoe area have begun in earnest.

“The Olympic spirit thrived here 1960 at Squaw, and we are looking to build on that tradition,” said Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who chairs the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition. “While 2022 seems a long way away, this area needs to be prepared should the United States Olympic Committee call for a bid city.”

The USOC remains mum on the possibility of Reno/ Tahoe garnering a future Games.

“The USOC has no current plans to bid for any Olympics or Winter Olympic Games,” said USOC Director of Communications Mark Jones in a phone interview last week. He declined to elaborate further.

In October, the cities of Annecy in France, Munich in Germany and Pyeongchang, South Korea, made pitches to host the 2018 Winter Games. All three applicants were selected as candidate cities on June 22, 2010. The winning bid will be announced on July 6, 2011, at the 123rd International Olympic Committee Session in Durban, South Africa.

Regional experience

Squaw Valley USA would welcome the opportunity to host the games for the second time said CEO Andy Wirth.

“We would absolutely welcome the Olympics to come to this region, which would only further solidify this area as a world-class ski resort destination,” he said.

Wirth worked for The Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah, in 2002, when the Winter Olympic Games were held in the Salt Lake City area. He was also employed by Intrawest, which operates Whistler Blackcomb Resort site of many of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games events, and saw first hand the benefits both regions accrued.

“The benefits truly serve the community,” he said. “The construction of infrastructure, the build-up of telecommunications networks provide a net positive that is more substantial than the exposure. However, showcasing the world-class facilities and resorts to a world-wide audience will be beneficial as well.”

Krolicki agreed.

“Salt Lake City has seen an explosion of private companies as a result of the games,” he said. “It’s become a national center for data storage because of all the fiberoptic cables that were installed in the lead-up to the event.”

Salt Lake City also installed a Light Rail system and other transportation-related elements, Krolicki said.

“The 2022 Winter Games would be a spectacle for several weeks,” he said. “But the improvements made to the infrastructure of the Lake Tahoe Basin in the lead-up to the games would benefit residents for decades.”i