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Committee explores challenges for 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Colorado

4:45 PM, Jan 7, 2012   |    comments
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A hand-picked committee by Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver's Mayor Michael Hancock laid the groundwork for a three-month exploratory process on whether Colorado could and should host the Winter Games.

"The benefit and the effort are greater than most people have any concept of," said Don Elliman, co-chair of Denver's Olympic Exploratory Committee.

Elliman, Executive Director of the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Biology at the University of Colorado Medical School, is one of 22 people on the committee.

"You have to understand that we're an exploratory committee," he said. "This committee is not about how to bid or how to run a games."

Committee Co-Chair and Colorado Health Foundation CEO Anne Warhover said it's to figure out whether to bid on the Olympics.

The committee will explore an estimated price tag that could reach into the billions.

If the Salt Lake City games were held today, they would have cost $1.5 billion after inflation, according to accounting firm Grant Thorton, who presented figures at the meeting Saturday.

Most of the money for the games in Colorado would come from private fundraising, not tax dollars, Warhover said.

The committee also heard about various venues around Colorado that could host athletes.

"We have a World Cup downhill course in Beaver Creek," said Elliman. Hockey could find a home all over the Front Range, he said.

"You could have hockey at Broomfield," he said. "You could have hockey down at the World Arena down in Colorado Springs. You could have hockey at DU."

And then there's the challenge of ski jumping and Nordic skiing.

The Olympic Committee has set rules saying athletes cannot compete above 5,800 feet because of things like air density, affecting drag on athletes.

Many of the committee members heard of that fact for the first time Saturday.

"Ski jumping and Nordic, will probably have to be somewhere in the foothills because of the altitude issues," Elliman said.

All of those issues will have a quick timeline of exploration.
The overall committee split into four smaller committees to explore fundraising, financing, operations, and the "why" or "why not" questions.

That will happen, by March, Warhover said.

"We need to be quick, because if the USOC opens the door, there's not going to be much time," she said.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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