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Tourism officials hopeful of future Olympic games at Lake Tahoe

Tourism officials hope to see green with the gold in two years.

Many expect the Lake Tahoe region to experience a snowball effect in pass-along visitation when the Olympic Games roll in to Salt Lake City, Utah, in the winter of 2002.

“We know the Olympics are going to give us business. We’ll get a boost – no question about it,” said Chris Chrystal, spokeswoman for the Nevada Commission on Tourism.



Chrystal tapped Lake Tahoe as being part of the target zone.

To familiarize them with the West’s premiere ski resort area, she brought a group of eight international ski magazine writers, including one from Ski Magazine, to both the lake’s North and South shores in March.




Strategists with some local ski areas are planning to throw out the welcome mat and send a few of their own local ski stars.

Working with ski areas, lodging associations, casinos and tourism boards, Chrystal is packaging media kits, developing a promotional campaign and inviting other tourism-oriented organizations to join her in snagging the business.

“We’re promoting the availability of Nevada as a site for visitors to the Olympics to stay here, play here and use it for the usual pleasures – sun, skiing, golf, tennis, sightseeing, fine dining, exciting shopping, resort living, 24-hour entertainment – all the amenities Nevada offers to visitors,” she said from her Carson City office.

Halfway between there and the lake, Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce Director Kathleen Farrell also expressed interest in a tourism partnership. She imagines the gateway community will benefit from international visitors seeking the thrills of driving across the Old West.

“It’s really quite a distance. It would really depend on how much they want to see (while they’re here),” Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce President Elaine Agnason said.

The Nevada tourism board hopes its proximity to Utah will break down borders. It’s convinced the spillover of visitors from Salt Lake and Park City is two-fold. There are those who may commute to the Olympics from one of Nevada’s more than 169,000 motel and hotel rooms and others who may want to escape the crowds and simply participate in the sports featured.

It may be one or the other at the lake.

“Anyone looking for a ski vacation will come to Tahoe. We get the serious skier here,” said Terry LeBan, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “Anyone wanting to see the Olympics will go to Salt Lake.”

If anything, the possibilities and probabilities have created dialogue among officials whose livelihood depends on cashing in on tourism opportunities.

And many insiders agree that people who go to the winter Olympics are those who are intensely interested in these kinds of sports.

“I think (the Olympics) spurs interest in the sport,” South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Director Duane Wallace said. He expects more sport enthusiasts from Northern California to visit the south shore, if they can’t travel to Utah. Wallace hopes the city will take part in the bidding of the 2022 games. Tahoe applied in 1985 with a dozen other cities, but the Olympic committee shies away from selecting back-to-back cities from one nation.

Nevertheless, Wallace believes the resort town is “better suited” as a host city. South Lake Tahoe has more than 10,000 rooms, in comparison to Lake Placid’s 2,000.

The Salt Lake City area has been the hot spot in the last few years, sparking controversy regarding bribes among Olympic officials and exhilaration over the events and their venues.

Around the corner from Little Cottonwood Canyon, Park City ski jumpers on the American team have pinned much of their hopes for gold to beat their European rivals on a state-of-the-art, 120-meter jump. At this mining town’s Olympic village, excitement kicked off two years ago with an unwanted visitor to the bobsled chute. A moose wandered onto the track.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee started selling tickets for the games this week on the Internet at http://www.saltlake2002.com. They will remain available until Dec. 12. Prices range from $20 to $885, and most average $82. Visitors may choose from the 165 events by obtaining a planning guide through 800-TICKETS. Orders have amounted to $23 million in sales, the committee reported Wednesday.


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