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Inspired by the Olympic athletes? Keep the flame burning with a new skill.

Utah sports venues and gyms teach some of the lesser known sports of the Summer Games like archery, fencing and judo.

Editor’s note • This article is part of 150 Things To Do, a reporting project and newsletter exploring the best that Utah has to offer. Click here to sign up for the 150 Things weekly newsletter.

Were you inspired by the flips of gymnast MyKayla Skinner, the speed of track star Gabrielle Thomas or the skills of swimmer Katie Ledecky?

Keep the Olympic flame burning by learning a lesser known sport at one of Utah’s many sporting venues and gyms.

The Utah Olympic Park in Park City — where some of the events for the 2002 Olympics were held — is an obvious place to start. It offers summer activities for novices and aspiring Olympians, said Kole Nordmann, the facility’s marketing and media production manager.

There’s no need to wait for snow to try summer bobsledding, ski and snowboard freestyle pool lessons, zip line tours, extreme tubing and the Alpine Slide. These activities have fees, so check out the Utah Olympic Park website for more information.

There are plenty of free activities, Nordmann said, including hiking trails, the park’s two museums and watching athletes as they power through their training programs.

“You don’t see the grind every single day,” Nordmann said. “[So seeing them train] humanizes the athletes. … This is their job. They have to do these things every day.”

Here are a few other ways to play like an Olympian in Utah.

(Ross D. Franklin | Associated Press) A grouping of arrows on an archery target. Thursday, April 30, 2020.

Archery

From Marvel’s Hawkeye to Disney’s Princess Merida, there’s no shortage of characters who wield bows and arrows.

But the real experts were found at the Tokyo Olympics, where Mete Gazoz of Turkey took gold in the men’s individual competition and An San of South Korea won gold in the women’s individual competition.

There are a number of places around Utah where everyone from novices to experienced archers can practice their aim:

Easton Foundations Archery Center in Salt Lake offers archery equipment rentals for $5 to $10 an hour. Equipment includes a bow, five arrows, a quiver and an arm guard.

Salt Lake Archery has children’s archery lessons Monday through Friday evenings. The classes are $8 per child and include equipment, shooting time and lessons from certified instructors.

The indoor shooting range at Wilde Arrow Archery in Centerville costs $5 a day for youth and $8 a day for adults. The joint archery store and range also offers a series of beginning archery classes; the first one costs $30 per person and provides equipment for use.

(Silvia Izquierdo | Associated Press) Ryan Chew of the United States eyes the shuttlecock during the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019.

Badminton

Players — either alone or in pairs — hit a shuttlecock across a net in this racquet sport, which officially became part of the Olympics in 1992.

In Utah, aspiring badminton players can try the game courtesy of The Utah Badminton Association at the Dimple Dell Fitness & Recreation Center in Sandy. It costs $5 per day.

The University of Utah Badminton Club also welcomes anyone interested in the sport to join them in the George Rice Eccles Student Life Center. Days and hours vary by semester; admission for non-students is $6 with the sponsorship of a student. See the club’s Facebook page for more information.

(Associated Press file photo) Gold medal winner Chloe Esposito of Australia, left, competes against Isabella Isaksen of the United States, during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Fencing

If daring sword fights or epic duels seem exciting, then this sport might be for you.

The sport involves speed, agility and “chess-like strategic thinking,” according to the Wasatch Fencing website.

This year, American Lee Kiefer took gold in the women’s individual foil event.

Salt City Swords Fencing Club, (formerly Utah Sword Academy) is located at 3536 S. West Temple. For $95 a month, plus a $30 equipment fee, beginners can take a class a week.

Wasatch Fencing in Kaysville will give prospective fencers a one-hour lesson with a coach for $35. After that, adults pay a one-time registration fee of $200 to cover equipment and the first month’s gym fee. (Registration is $100 if a fencer already has equipment.) Monthly fees after registration vary. Visit the website for more details.

Valkyrie Fencing Club in Pleasant Grove offers a four-week trial membership for $120. This includes eight training and instruction sessions and use of club equipment.

(Petr David Josek | Associated Press) Denmark's Mikkel Hansen shoots during the World Handball Championship final game against Sweden in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021.

Handball

This game was first played in Scandinavia and Germany at the end of the 19th Century, according to Team USA’s website. it involves two teams of seven players passing a ball with their hands with the aim of throwing it into the other team’s goal,

It was originally introduced as an outdoor summer sport in 1939 Olympics, but has been played as an indoor summer sport since 1972.

Utah residents can buy a year-long membership with the Utah Handball Association for $50. The group meets at The Sports Mall in Murray on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

However, Patrick Halladay, a representative for the Massif SLC Team Handball Club, clarified that the Utah Handball Association is affiliated with a version of the sport that’s different than the version used in the Olympics.

“It’s more like racquetball played with the palm of your hand,” he said. “Because of this confusion, Olympic handball is referred to as ‘team handball’ in the U.S.”

Halladay also said that the Massif SLC Team Handball Club plays team handball (the Olympic version of the sport) and meets every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sandy Elementary Futsal Courts.

For more information, check out the club’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

(Hiro Komae | Associated Press) Judo teacher Tomoo Hamana watches his students at Hamana Dojo in Oiso town, west of Tokyo on Oct. 1, 2020.

Judo

This combat sport demands physical prowess and mental discipline, according to Team USA’s website, and involves techniques that allow competitors to lift, throw and pin down opponents.

Despite this, the word “judo” literally means “the way of gentleness,” from the Japanese character “ju” meaning “gentle” and “do” meaning “the way.”

In Tokyo, Japanese athletes won gold medals in five men’s weight categories, while four additional Japanese judokas took gold in four women’s weight categories.

Adults and children can learn the moves at Rocky Mountain Judo in Midvale. The first few visits are free, then tuition is $80 a month.

Lehi Judo Club also offers adult and kids’ classes. After a one-week free trial, tuition is $70 a month for one to two classes a week or $90 a month for unlimited classes.

Kaizen Judo Dojo in Clearfield has a monthly membership for $60 per person and a family membership for a four for $125 a month.

Editor’s note • 150 Things To Do is a reporting project and weekly newsletter made possible by the generous support of the Utah Office of Tourism. Sign up for the 150 Things newsletter here.


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