Just in time for the start of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the Utah Olympic Park and Utah Olympic Oval are adding new exhibits to celebrate the Games.
The Utah Olympic Park, located 28 miles east of Salt Lake City in Park City, will offer two new attractions.
The first is a virtual indoor ski experience ride scheduled for a grand opening from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 7, the start of the Sochi Games, at the Alf Engen Ski Museum inside the Olympic Park.
The second will be the "Ted Ligety Hometown Hero" exhibit that showcases racing gear and other items donated to the museum by the Park City native and reigning World Cup champion. Ligety is expected to be one of America’s top threats for the gold in Sochi.
"These new exhibits and virtual rides are exceptional enhancements to the museum’s visitor experience," said David Vandehei, president of the volunteer Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation that oversees the museum. "Virtually and realistically these enhancements will ‘reboot’ the Alf Engen Ski Museum. This exhibit is the first of many phases to update our entire museum. Our next phase will be a virtual ski jump simulating our Utah Olympic Park Nordic K120 ski jump."
The virtual ski experience ride simulates riding a four-person quad chairlift. The lift’s seats bob, sway, rise and dip in unison with winter sport scenes projected on a giant screen a few feet away, The 2½-minute ride also includes a light breeze and snow-like flakes that fill the air. The ride was sponsored by Adobe Systems.
The ride will be free from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on February 7. After that, it will have a one-ride pass fee of $5. Entrance to the museum, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is free.
The virtual ski experience ride is also included in the Utah Olympic Park’s Bronze Day Pass of $25 for adults and $15 for youth offered by the Utah Olympic Sports Park. That includes the ride, a guided tour of the Utah Olympic Park and a $10 credit valid in the cafe or gift shop.
The virtual ski experience ride is being billed as a first-of-its kind. It was designed and engineered by JDH Group in Ogden. According to Melanie Welch, marketing director for the Olympic park, riders sit in a quad chair attached to a motion base platform that moves to mirror the movement of the images on the 16-by-19-foot screen. Ski scenes were shot by local ski buff Marshall Miller, whose helmet-mounted camera shots are synchronized with the motions of the chair. The bobsled scenes come from the Olympic sliding track.
Donors for the ride and other exhibits include Adobe Systems, the Alf and Evelyn Engen Endowment Fund, University of Utah Olympic Cauldron Park, Summit County RAP Tax Grant, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Rossignol, North America Skytrac, Inc., the Park City Rotary Club and Utah Olympic Park.
The Utah Olympic Park in Park City and the Utah Olympic Oval ice skating complex in Kearns, both venues for the 2002 Winter Games, also have begun an advertising campaign called Olympic-Themed Playtime encouraging use of the facilities. For information, log on to www.UtahOlympicLegacy.com.
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