Can climate change affect Utah’s chance for Winter Games return?

SALT LAKE CITY – The Outdoor Retailer Show hosted a panel discussion Tuesday on climate and sustainability and how these issues will impact the potential for Utah to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games again.

Several former winter sports enthusiasts met with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall to discuss the longevity of winter sports in the region and how to ensure it in the future.

Utah got a lot of snow in the mountains this week. However, the recent snowless winters and the ongoing drought raise the question of how many more generations will enjoy winter sports.

“My job depends on the weather,” said Devin Logan, an Olympic freestyle skier.

Logan focuses on the sustainability message when meeting with people in the community. She always adds a message about improving the environment when speaking to school children.

“Turn off the light. Turn off the water between brushing your teeth,” Logan says. “Little things that kids can pick up on, little habits that grow into the next generation, contribute to more climate activation just because I want to see my sport grow and advance.”

Mendenhall believes Utah is likely to host the Olympics again. You and the Winter Olympics athletes want to use this as a launch pad to raise awareness of what our community can do to make a positive impact on the environment.

“We will be 100% renewable energy for all of Salt Lake City by 2030, if not sooner,” Mendenhall said.

All of that counts. If Utah gets the games, it must have positive climate games, according to the International Olympic Committee.

The roundtable conference was attended by Devin Logan, Olympic medalist, Catherine Raney-Norman, Salt Lake City-Utah Games Committee, Chris Mazdzer, Olympic medalist, and Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Mayor of Salt Lake City. (KSL TV)

Catherine Raney-Norman is leading the committee to bring the Games back to Beehive State.

“We’re not just talking about podiums or athletes here. But we’re really looking at the impact on our communities,” she explained.

Raney-Norman said there were already many talks about sustainable Olympics.

“We want to work with many of our stakeholders and many of our NGOs in the hope that we can come together and use these games as a catalyst for change around environmental sustainability and climate change issues,” Raney-Norman said.

Resuming the Games could give Utah a head start on sustainability projects, like Trax did before the 2002 Games.

“It wouldn’t have happened when it happened without the fact that we let the Games come,” Mendenhall said. “I know the Games will be a catalyst to force the necessary expansion of capital infrastructure, but it will spell lasting change in the experience of life on the Wasatch frontline for decades to come.”

Panellists believe that working for the Olympics can help onboard more people with positive initiatives for our climate. Collaborations are already in the works.