Lindsey Vonn, Jimmer Fredette to make Utah’s final pitch to IOC ahead of 2034 Olympics decision

Local bid committee plans to take nearly 100-person delegation to Paris in effort to bring Games home.

Armed with Lindsey Vonn’s determination and Jimmer Fredette’s charm, organizers of Salt Lake City’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Olympics have to be feeling pretty good heading into their final meeting with the International Olympic Committee.

Vonn, winner of 86 World Cup downhill skiing races as well as four season titles and a gold medal, will be among those presenting the local team’s final pitch to the IOC general assembly at its meeting July 24 in Paris. Fredette, a former basketball star at BYU and a member of Team USA’s 3x3 team at the Paris Olympics, meanwhile, will be among several athletes in the roughly 100-member delegation making the trip.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games has one more pitch to make to the IOC to convince it to select Utah as the site of the 2034 Games. IOC members will vote on the host immediately after the 11 a.m. presentation on July 24. In anticipation of good news, local bid organizers have begun making plans for early morning celebrations that include a live-stream of the vote.

“We’re going to speak from the heart,” local bid president and CEO Fraser Bullock said during a presentation of the athlete delegation at Kiln on Tuesday “because Utah loves the Games. We know the benefit that the Games provide to our wonderful young athletes are incredible Olympians and Paralympians and the value of sport. We understand that, we feel that it’s part of our DNA.”

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fraser Bullock, the President & CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, speaks during a press event where the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games announced its delegation team in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

While the bid has received consistently rave reviews, organizers aren’t letting the opportunity to wow IOC members pass them by. In addition to Vonn, presenters include such state dignitaries as Gov. Spencer Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall as well as Gene Sykes, the president of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Bullock will also speak, as will local bid committee board chair Catherine Raney Norman and Paralympian Dani Aravich.

Other state dignitaries will support the bid with their presence. They include state senate president Stuart Adams, Speaker of the House Mike Schultz and Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, in addition to Salt Lake County and Park City mayors Jenny Wilson and Nann Worel.

Government officials will be on the hook to pay for their own trips and that of their staffs, though Cox and Mendenhall will have some lodging and transportation paid for by the USOPC, Bullock said. He said most of the expenses for the rest of the delegation will be paid for by private donations to the bid committee.

Vonn, who lives near Park City, serves as the SLC-UT’s chief of athlete experience. In a nod to the athlete-focused tilt the organizing committee envisions for the event, she will be joined in pitching Utah as the site of the 2034 Olympics by two other Olympic and Paralympic athletes: Aravich and Raney Norman.

Aravich worked for a time for the Utah Jazz before becoming a Para Nordic skier who competed in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. She also ran in the 2021 Tokyo Games as a track athlete. Raney Norman competed in speed skating in four Winter Games from 1998 to 2010 and still holds some U.S. records.

Pulling from her own experiences as a competitor, Raney Norman spearheaded the 2034 bid’s innovative “Athlete Family Initiative.” It has become one of the bid’s cornerstones.

“We envision having an athletes’ family village where the families can gather from around the world and get to know families from other countries,” Bullock explained. “And we facilitate things for them: to buy affordable tickets and have affordable housing and transportation so that they can be there in these meaningful moments. So that when we have these wonderful athletes who have dedicated their lives, families have also dedicated their lives to support these athletes, and being able to see both of them enjoy the games together, that’s a big part of what we want to do.”

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kaysha Love, an Olympian and World Championship medalist, speaks during a press event where the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games announced its delegation team in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

A roster of other past, current and potentially future Olympians who will support the bid with their presence. One is speedskater Erin Jackson, who in Beijing became the first Black woman to win gold in an individual Winter Olympic event. Another is Kaysha Love, a Herriman High alumnae who competed as a bobsled pusher in Beijing. And, of course, there’s Fredette. The NCAA scoring leader his senior season at BYU and a former NBA player, he has had a resurgence as a member of Team USA’s 3x3 men’s team.

“He was an absolute ‘Yes, I can’t miss this,’” Raney Norman said of Fredette.

Perhaps the most star-struck by the opportunity to witness history in Paris are three local kids hoping to be competing at an Olympic level by 2034, ideally in front of a home crowd. They include Orson Colby, an 11-year-old luge athlete from Riverton and 15-year-old figure skaters Emma De Bock of Farmington and Kate Pressgrove of Heber City.

“I want to show that Utah is a place of adventure,” De Bock said of what she hopes to accomplish in Paris, “and that it’s ready to make the 2034 Olympics an unforgettable experience.”

According to Erin Jackson, though, those up-and-comers won’t be the only ones hungry for a spot on the roster if the delegation is successful in returning the Olympics to Utah.

“It kind of makes me want to see if I can stick it out another 10 years,” she said.