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Going to the Games? Here's what you need to know

March 22, 2001

Going to the Games? Here's what you need to know



By KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

Three-hundred twenty days and counting. The Winter Olympics are coming to Salt Lake City, Utah, and it's not too late to be a part of the festivities.

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But like a luger careening down the track at upwards of 90 mph, time is running short. The XIX Winter Games begin Feb. 8, 2002, but the window of opportunity to be in Utah as the Olympics unfold is steadily closing.

"If you hold off too long, there won't be availability," says Belinda Stull, owner of Carlson Wagonlit Travel on Dual Highway in Hagerstown. "It's not like you can hold out and hope you get a bargain; the longer you wait the farther out from the venues you'll be."

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That is the rub for would-be travelers. At this stage of the game, tickets to some events are growing scarce, and finding a place to stay could be just as tricky.

But Olympic representatives and Utah-area business leaders say there is still hope to bask in the glory of skiers skiing, skaters skating and skeletors skeletoning.

"It's tough to get a ticket to gold medal hockey or figure skating, but it's not impossible," says Vania Grandi, a media relations manager with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics and Paralympics. "I would say plan ahead. Think about when you'd like to be here, think about what you events you want to see."

From Oct. 10 until before Christmas, the first phase of ticket sales began. People could sign up for packages and single tickets to events, requesting which sports they wanted to see. Last month, people were notified of what events they had received tickets to.

Grandi says 83 percent of the people who took part in phase-one sales received at least one of their choices; 40 percent received all of their choices.

Most requested events included opening and closing ceremonies, figure skating, hockey and some of the skiing events. The tickets still available for those sports include high-end, premium seats that will cost some cash to get into the venue.

For instance, a single ticket to the opening or closing ceremony will cost $885 - a price Grandi says is comparable with previous Olympics.

Still, they will be available in an online auction this spring, according to Grandi.

Easier to see will be curling, nonmedal round women's hockey and biathlon. Some of the outdoor venues, such as those hosting cross-country skiing and biathlon events, are so spacious that seeing them should not be a problem.

"There's so much standing room that it's hard to sell out for them," Grandi says.

Ticket prices can range from $25 - for one ticket to see some biathlon and skiing events - to $35 for women's luge and $95 to see preliminary rounds of women's hockey.

One year away from the games, Grandi says 61 percent of all Olympic tickets have been sold, totaling $1.6 million. By comparison, 52 percent of tickets to the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, had been sold a year before the Games began.

Location, location, location


When planning where to stay in Utah, Mike Whitney, director of the Utah Media Center, says to first figure out what you want to see during the Games. The Utah Media Center was established by the state of Utah as a resource for media before, during and after the Olympics.

"People should be aware of the geographic distances between venues when they're out here," Whitney, of Columbia, Md., says. "They should take that into account when going to events."

For example: If you want to see the medal ceremonies, don't stray far from downtown Salt Lake City. At the end of each day during the Games, medals will be awarded in a ceremony for that day's events.

Whitney estimates it will take about 20 minutes to get from Salt Lake City to the hockey venue, 40 minutes for speed skating. To get to Park City, Utah, events it might take 40 minutes, while traveling from Snow Basin - where downhill and alpine skiing events will occur - to Park City could take up to an hour and 15 minutes.

And all of those times, Whitney says, are assuming the weather is good. Factor in some snow or slippery conditions, and visitors will need to plan wisely.

Thirty-two miles away from Salt Lake City in Park City, Convention and Visitors Bureau communications director Shawn Stinson has a simple solution for prospective guests: Don't leave Park City.

With events at three locations - Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Utah Olympic Park - Stinson says there will be enough to keep people busy.

When competition is concluded for the day, Park City is taking measures to keep people downtown. The city will close Main Street every day for an ongoing festival of events, entertainment and large screens for people to watch events at other venues. A similar festival will take place in Salt Lake City.

"They say once you get to the Olympics, 30 percent of your time is going to events," Stinson says. "And 70 percent is mingling with people from around the world."

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