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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002


Idaho places itself on Olympic map

Promotional efforts underway
in Salt Lake City

Express Staff Writer

A Mr. Potato Head-style Idaho mascot called Spuddy Buddy stood amidst Salt Lake City’s urban Main Street Monday afternoon waving to international Olympic sporting enthusiasts as they perused the 2002 Winter Olympic host city.

Monday was "Idaho Days" at the Western States Discovery Center in Salt Lake City. The center, and Spuddy Buddy, the potato, are meant to promote tourism during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Express photo by Greg Stahl

Monday was the first of two "Idaho Days" at the Western States Discovery Center in downtown Salt Lake City, and Spuddy Buddy, the result of an Idaho television tourism campaign, will return for an encore on Saturday and Feb. 21 for the second and third Idaho Days of the games.

The Western States Discovery Center is a combined effort by Idaho, Utah and Nevada to drum up tourism as a result of the games. Representatives from the Idaho Department of Commerce and various Idaho chambers of commerce, including the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce, are there for the duration of the games to help introduce Idaho to the world.

Preliminary estimates indicate that as many as 3,000 visitors a day could pass through the center on South Main Street, just south of Temple Square.

Monday evening, a delegation of Idaho officials convened at the center for a special reception. Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. The Idaho 2002 Committee, which has been meeting since 1997 to prepare for the Olympics, held a meeting to measure the fruits of its efforts. Idaho native and Paralympic hopeful Muffy Davis shared some inspiring words, and Corey Engen, one of Brundage Mountain Resort’s founders and a 1948 Winter Olympian, showed support for his long-time home.

Most in attendance agreed that the Olympics should be a boon to Idaho’s and many western states’ tourism industries.

"May I just tell you how pleased we are that the entire West is benefiting (from the Olympics)," Gov. Leavitt said.

"This is our opportunity to introduce ourselves to the rest of the world," Ketchum resident and Idaho 2002 Committee Chairman Chip Fisher said. "We have put a great step forward. Yes, we’re headed in the right direction."

Idaho Department of Commerce Administrator Carl Wilgus pointed out that Idaho and other western states may not realize the fruits of their efforts immediately, perhaps even for years.

"If anything, this is just to gain general awareness," agreed Carrie Schiller Westergard, Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber of Commerce marketing director. Schiller Westergard spent several days early this week meeting with people at the Western States Discovery Center.

"If anything we’re thinking there’ll be future trips because of our efforts now," she said.

Kempthorne more than once pointed to Idaho’s blue skies, white mountains and how taken Europeans are with the American West’s wide open spaces.

"The state of Idaho is one of the finest commodities to promote," he said. "We have landed."

Fisher said Idaho’s and Sun Valley’s efforts to attract Olympic athletes for training paid off over the past two years. More than 200 athletes trained in Sun Valley prior to the games, and Ukrainian athletes returned, largely free of charge, for several rounds of high altitude training.

"Really the small step we’ve taken here by embracing the Ukrainians starts to bring on other economic opportunities," Fisher said. "They, in a desperate way, want to foster and nurture this relationship. These are the friendships and underpinnings of other economic relationships."

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, also took note, and commended the Wood River Valley before his colleagues in Washington, D.C.

"I rise today to pay tribute to a place I’m proud to represent. It’s a place with rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, dazzling celebrities and home to a world class ski resort: Sun Valley, Idaho," Simpson said in an address on the House floor last week.

"For three weeks, we’ll see skating, skiing, curling, bobsledding and ski jumping and more. Fortunately, many of these athletes will have a short trip to Salt Lake City because they’ve been training at Idaho’s world-class facilities.

"I’d like to honor the communities of Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey for their contribution to the Winter Olympics. The communities have opened their doors to these athletes and given them the opportunity to not only adjust to the altitude of the West and Mountain Time Zone, but to America."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.