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Warren Miller

A realistic look at the Olympics

Here’s the other side of a broadcasting script from the Salt Lake City Olympics.

"Welcome to the Winter Olympics. I’m Wolfgang Bang and I will be your up-close-and-personal announcer for some of the special events. Today, we will be broadcasting from beautiful Deer Valley, assuming we can somehow get there.

Deer Valley is one of only two ski resorts left in America that doesn’t allow snowboards on their hills because the resort is built on private property owned by Edgar Stern. Deer Valley is also unique because it can limit the number of skiers on the hill to whatever number they choose, depending on current snow conditions and their bank balance from the day before. An all time record crowd at this large, yet picturesque, resort is 6,000 skiers. (Compare that to Vail, Colorado, where their record is 25,000 people in one day.)

Deer Valley will be presenting some relatively new Olympic events called Moguls and Airtime, even though it is a ski resort that does not allow moguls of any kind. There’s no use trying to figure out how the Olympic Committee thinks. But enough about the ski events, let’s talk about you, the spectator, and what you can expect if you want to be up close and personal at the events.

Just to please the Olympic Committee, Deer Valley had to construct a giant stadium that will seat 10,000 people in snow-covered, plastic bleachers. They had to build it where it really jams up the skiing for the entire season. In addition to that, the events will have additional standing room for 6,500 spectators, who will have 13,000 frostbitten feet when they get back on the bus after standing on freezing cold ice and snow all day.

Then, of course, there are members of the press like me, Wolfgang Bang. I’m working for a Modesto, California television station to bring you this inside look at the many Olympic events that are being staged for you at an estimated cost of two billion dollars. There are about 5,000 of us press people that have to be accommodated at each event so that each one of us can put a different spin on what is happening. Then, there are over 5,000 athletes, plus their entourage of individual trainers and groupies, which amounts to another 5,000 bodies. We can’t forget the very important, so-called Friends of the Olympics. They are Olympic officials from all over the world, and consist of another 2,000 or 3,000 people, who get to come to Salt Lake City with all of their expenses paid.

The management of Deer Valley recently expressed their hope that all of these people won’t show up at their resort at the same time. Of course, there is no guarantee that this won’t happen. If it does, almost 30,000 people will be standing or sitting in the snow to watch an event.

Unfortunately most of these spectators will be coming from Salt Lake City, which is an easy half-hour drive under normal conditions. I have the inside scoop on this situation and I have a suggestion. If you are staying in a $400-a-day motel on the outskirts of the city, drive your car to the airport, which is about 20 minutes west of town. There, you will probably find the only parking place within 50 miles. At the airport, hire a taxicab to drive you back into town to the bus stop for Deer Valley. Once there, plan on standing in line for some undetermined length of time before you finally get on your bus to Deer Valley.

Since each bus only hauls about 40 people, there will be approximately 750 busloads of people going to Deer Valley. There will be a line of buses about three-fifths of a mile long. After sitting in the long, slow traffic jam that will extend from downtown Salt Lake City to Deer Valley, all of those people will be in immediate need of some sort of toilet facility. To that end, the owners of Deer Valley tell me that they have already reserved and have in place over 1,000 chemical toilets for the events, which means about 30 people per toilet. I know this is not a pleasant thing to bring up during a winter Olympics broadcast, but I’m just trying to help all of you to plan accordingly and enjoy the event, if you can get there.

If you really want to plan accordingly, don’t drink or eat anything after four o’clock the night before the event and you won’t have to stand in the chemical toilet line when you really should be watching the world’s greatest skiers doing unbelievable things. Need I remind you that you could have watched these tricks in slow motion in your living room with your very own toilet within easy walking distance?

I’m Wolfgang Bang bringing you your realistic, inside look at the winter Olympics from my hotel room in nearby Ogden, which is only a one-hour drive from Salt Lake City. From here, I’ll be doing colour commentary on whatever I see on network TV."