Salt Lake City Finally Wins Winter Games

Article excerpt

The Swiss handed out stuffed St. Bernards. The Swedes brought in their prime minister. Quebec stressed its Old World charm.

But Salt Lake City spent $798 million on six-lane highways and eight of nine venues, and that's what mattered most when 89 members of the International Olympic Committee gathered Friday in Budapest, Hungary, to select the site for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

After four unsuccessful bids in 29 years, Salt Lake City was awarded the Games in a landslide vote. The Utah capital received 54 votes. Ostersund, Sweden, and Sion, Switzerland, got 14 votes each and Quebec seven.

It will be the first time since the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., that the United States hosts the Winter Olympics, and the second time in six years the Olympics will be held on U.S. soil. The 1996 Summer Olympics will be in Atlanta.

Bid committee chief Tom Welch wasn't sure he heard correctly when IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch announced Salt Lake City as the winner. Welch was so excited he could barely sign the IOC's host city contract.

"My hand was shaking so bad, I had to set it on the table," he said.

Back home in Salt Lake City, more than 40,000 people partied in the streets Friday after watching the announcement on a giant-screen television. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir brought many fans to tears with its rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful." The $150,000 celebration began Thursday night with a parade, fireworks show and speech by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, a graduate of nearby Brigham Young University.

In Budapest, Salt Lake City boosters lined a Danube River bridge and cheered.

"I feel like the climber who's made it to the top of Mt. Everest," said Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini. …