Virtual Tours

Take a virtual tour of the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games Museum.

Come visit us and see the Museums in person. Admission is free and we are open 7 days a week from 10 am – 6 pm.


2002: Hays, Hines lost chance by .03 of a second

The following is an excerpt from an article published at on February 17, 2002:

The ugliest words in the Olympics are fourth place. Nothing even comes close, and when fourth place is accompanied by a margin of .03 of a second, fourth place becomes the worst neighborhood in town.

Americans Todd Hays and Garrett Hines finished fourth in the two-man bobsled, extending America’s 46-year medal drought in the sport.

Hays, a former Ultimate Fighting guy, put it on himself to get the Americans back on the podium, but after four runs he and Hines missed by about the length of a finger.

The German team, driven by bobsled legend Christopher Langen (four Olympic medals, two golds) won the gold after entering the final run tied with Switzerland-1. Switzerland-2 won bronze.

“I thought we put a good enough margin on them,” Hays said. “I thought I had a bronze, but you can’t make mistakes against the Germans and the Swiss. I don’t want a lucky win. I want a legitimate win.”

Hays began his Salt Lake Olympic experience with a press conference in which he melodramatically presented a slew of nutritional drinks and foods that could contain banned supplements. The diatribe, directed at the IOC, was his response to the pre-Olympic suspension of his pusher, Pavle Jovanovic.

Sunday, he was more gracious in disappointment than he had been in anger. He blamed the loss on one poor start Saturday and gave credit to bronze-medal driver Martin Annen of Switzerland-2. “If I had two runs yesterday (in the first round) like I had today, I’d be in the medals,” Hays said. “If I wasn’t competing against the Germans and the Swiss, I’d be real proud of them.”

Asked if the Olympics would leave more bad memories than good, Hays said, “No. No. I’m proud to be here.”

Click here to read the entire article.

2002: Americans make great Nordic strides in Utah

The following is an excerpt from an article published at on February 24, 2002:

For the U.S. Nordic skiing teams, close counts, fourth-place finishes are fantastic and best showings ever are cause for celebration. These Americans aren’t quite ready to measure success with medals.

“That day will come,” cross-country skier Justin Wadsworth said.

Maybe soon.

The U.S. Nordic skiing program, which includes biathlon, cross-country and Nordic combined, enjoyed its top Olympic performance in 26 years at the Salt Lake City Games. And it didn’t even medal.

“I don’t think any of us would tell you that we came here just to race and to compete in the Olympics,” biathlete Rachel Steer said. “We really needed to raise the bar, and I think we did. But we’re not satisfied. Hopefully that will drive us through the next four years of training.”

And possibly put them on the podium in 2006.

The United States failed to medal in five Olympic sports at these games: curling, ski jumping and the three Nordic skiing disciplines. The Americans were shut out at Soldier Hollow.

But the Nordic skiing teams had several breakthrough performances on the men’s side, and the athletes hope those results will help propel the programs into the world’s elite group — and into medal contention.

“The men’s teams had huge, huge results,” Steer said. “That’s what we need (kids) to see. If they see it, then we can raise interest and that will give us promise for the future.”

The women fared much worse. Steer had the highest biathlon finish, 31st, and Nina Kemppel had the best cross country finish, 17th.

“(The men) definitely have a head start on us as far as development, but we’re looking really strong for four years from now,” cross-country skier Barbara Jones said. “Eight years from now, I think we can be in the medals. I really believe that.”

Click here to read the entire article.

2002: ‘Miracle’ team scores again, lights caldron

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the Deseret News on February 9, 2002:

The best-kept secret of the 2002 Winter Games opening ceremonies turned out not to be much of a surprise.
Led by captain Mike Eruzione, 18 members of the gold-medal winning 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey team grasped the torch to ignite the Olympic caldron atop the south bleachers at Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium on Friday night.

Eruzione, the enthusiastic leader of the team that stunned the Soviet Union 22 years ago, appeared from a door at the base of the caldron wearing a USA hockey jersey with his name and number emblazoned on the back. He stood holding the torch as the crowd erupted in cheers.

A few moments later, the entire team dressed in red, white and blue jerseys emerged to face the crowd. Members then banded together to set the fire in motion at the bottom of the caldron.

The fire slowly spiraled upward 130 feet to the pinnacle of the angular steel-and-glass structure, disappearing at one point before coming to a roaring burn. It looked like a giant flaming icicle that had fallen from the sky.

Lights at the base gave the caldron a blue tinge, while four beams of light streamed skyward from behind.

“That was just something that was kind of mind-boggling for all of us,” said Eruzione, who added the team wondered after the game 22 years ago if anyone was watching them beat the Soviets.

The media and others had speculated for months that the 1980 team, which came together for a reunion at the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles last week, would put the final torch to caldron at the Salt Lake Games.

Eruzione’s game-winning goal propelled the 1980 team to improbable victory over Russia at Lake Placid, N.Y.

The team beat Finland two days later for the gold medal.

Click here to read the entire article.

2002: Caldron Unveiled

The following is an excerpt from a KSL news report that took place on January 8, 2002:

The Olympic Caldron now stands at the foot of Rice Eccles Stadium awaiting Opening Ceremonies. It’s 117-feet tall, with 738 individually made pieces of glass.

The Caldron was unveiled before dawn Tuesday under a thick layer of morning fog.

No one knows exactly how the cauldron will be lit. That’s top-secret information. But as of Tuesday morning, we now know what the caldron looks like.

News Specialist John Daley reports.

Lean and tall, the stainless steel structure surrounded by sleek glass, is unveiled before an audience of reporters and photographers.

Until it burns one month from now, imagine a bowl bursting with fire, sitting atop glass, with water cascading down.


738 pieces of glass made by Western Glass in Ogden, are individually designed. The huge frame was built by Aerodynamics of Clearfield. When it finally rests in its base, it’ll stand 117-feet tall.


The 2-million dollar caldron was designed by a U of U graduate who came up with more than 40 designs before SLOC picked this one.

It’ll burn at the south end of Rice-Eccles Stadium through the winter games and the Paralympics.

SLOC’s commissioned a second, smaller replica of the caldron. That one will stand at the Medals Plaza during the Games.

Click here to read the entire article.

2002: In Praise of the Lone Olympians

The following is an excerpt from an article published on February 21, 2002 at

Earlier this week, Prawat Nagvajara realized how badly he needed to talk to his coach. His cross-country skiing sprint event was imminent, but he couldn’t get his preparation straight. “My coach is trying to explain to me something about the body building up lactic acid,” he said, looking a little confused. “I have got to get straight what happens, how to warm up, how to prepare. I have to call her again.”

This is not your average Olympian talking, but then Nagvajara, 43, isn’t actually a world-class athlete. The first person ever to represent Thailand at a Winter Games, he was lapped and eliminated from his first event, the 30km, less than a third of the way through. Even in the relatively short time he spent on the Soldier Hollow course, he had time to fall, have the wind knocked out of him, get cramps and lose his goggles.

Nagvajara grew up in Bangkok playing keyboards in a teenage rock band; he was 18 before he ever saw snow. By entering the Olympic Games, he has joined an elite club: he is one of 11 athletes who are the sole representatives of their countries at these Salt Lake City Games. From 20-year-old Shiva Keshavan, who carried the hopes of 1.1 billion Indians with him down the icy luge track (he came in a surprising 33rd out of 50), to slalom skier Gian Matteo Giordani, who will represent the tiny European enclave of San Marino today, none of them entered believing they had a chance to end up on the podium. Some, like South African Alpine skier Alex Heath, think they could strike gold, if only they had the funding (and the training and equipment it buys) of the big national teams. Others are poster children for Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Games, who said that the most important thing in the Olympic Games was not to win, but to take part.

“I love the sport, and the chance to compete at this level is beyond a dream,” says Nagvajara, who has never won a race. “I was so honored, and proud, and shy to carry the Thai flag. I didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the event until then. I had just focused on skiing, on training. At the Opening Ceremony I thought, Oh boy, this is huge.” A professor of engineering at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, Nagvajara was inspired to take up cross country skiing and compete in the Olympics after seeing Kenyan Philip Boit come 92nd, and last, in the 10km classical cross country event at Nagano. Waiting at the finish line for Boit, 20 minutes after he had crossed it himself, was gold medallist Bjorn Dohlie, of Norway. The celebration that ensued, between first and last, became a classic Olympic moment replayed around the world.

“I was so surprised and I was so proud, because an Olympic champion was waiting for me,” Boit said Wednesday. He’s back at these Games having slashed 11minutes off his time. “He told me, ‘Please keep it up. Don’t let these Olympics be the last one.'” Boit returned home to Kenya, named his first-born child Dohlie, and took the champion’s advice to heart. Although a hiccup in sponsorship meant he only got four months training in before Salt Lake, he is now determined to train nonstop for the Turin 2006 games and make it to the top 10.

Click here to read the entire article.

Derek Parra, 2002 Gold and Silver Olympic Medalist, Joins the UAF Team

The Utah Athletic Foundation announced Wednesday, July 21, 2010 that Derek Parra, 2002 Gold and Silver Olympic Medalist in speed skating will be joining Utah’s Olympic Legacy Foundation as its new Outreach Director for Youth Sports Programs. Parra will play a vital community role in helping Utah’s youth connect with winter sports programs offered at Utah Olympic Oval and Utah Olympic Park. He will also oversee the Utah Olympic Oval’s speed skating programs, ensuring a dynamic series of age-appropriate athlete development programs on the “World’s Fastest Ice!”

Parra has assisted in the development of the organizations Olympic legacy efforts and goals while serving as a Board member of the Utah Athletic Foundation since 2007. And, as a member of the organization’s Sports Development Committee, he contributed his knowledge as an athlete and a coach. Parra said, “As a board member for the past three years, I have been fortunate to witness the Utah Athletic Foundation’s passion and commitment for youth sports in Utah. I am excited about this opportunity because it blends kids, sports and Utah, all of which I love. I am looking forward to working with kids and helping them in the process of not only being a champion in sport, but a champion in life”.

As one of the finest speed skating coaches in the world, Parra will bring a level of expertise to the beginner level programs never seen before in the United States. He will also use his unique expertise and community minded perspectives to further encourage Utah’s youth to engage in winter sport and physical activity.

Colin Hilton, Utah Athletic Foundation CEO, said, “Our Olympic legacy organization is very fortunate to have such a talented and respected individual lend his efforts towards the development of our young athletes. We look forward to growing our youth speed skating programs and expanding participation in all our unique winter sport program offerings. Derek is a perfect fit to help us spread the message about Utah’s Living Olympic Legacy and our efforts to promote winter sports in the State of Utah.”

Marc Norman, Utah Olympic Oval’s Director added that “Having one of the nations best coaches focus his efforts on our youth speed skating programs is very exciting. Derek will be involved in the day to day coaching and mentoring of beginner level participants bringing his skills to those he can impact most. This unique opportunity to work with a Gold Medal Olympian is not offered anywhere else in the United States. Parra will add a unique twist to coaching the youth of Utah, ensuring that their sport experiences are rewarding and fulfilling. His creative and innovative coaching techniques focus on kids having fun while promoting active and healthy lifestyles”.

Parra’s athletic successes include the 2002 Olympic Gold Medal in 1500 meters setting a new World Record and the 2002 Olympic Silver Medal in the 5000 meters setting a new American Record. His years of training and his coaching with the US Speed Skating team contribute to a wealth of experience and knowledge that he will bring to the Utah Athletic Foundation; not only in speed skating, but in overall sport and athlete development.