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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Olympic Memories: Ten Years Later

I stood outside the Wasatch Brewery, saddened. The darkened building was closed. It was the eleventh anniversary of my mother’s death and this particular pub held a sentimental spot in my heart for the occasion. Ten years ago my father and I traveled to Salt Lake City to see the 2002 Olympics, buying tickets for the events shortly after she passed away. And it was the Wasatch Brewery where we spent our first night in town for the Games.
 
We sampled the beers – the Polygamy Porter was outstanding, so bring some home for the wives! – and walked the length of Main Street in the falling snow. We paused to watch the president speak on television at the Opening Ceremonies down in Salt Lake City. We meandered past some of the Park City venues where athletes would be going for gold the very next day. And we trekked back through drifts to our condominium in the Prospector Square area of town.
Ten years later the memories are still incredibly vivid. I can easily recall time spent at the events – from a woman scraping a windshield on our bus in order to be able to see the icy roads to front row seats at the U.S. men verse Finland ice hockey game – it’s still as strong and clear today as it was when we were there. So on a recent Utah Office of Tourism-sponsored trip, I was buried by a crush of memories when I saw all of the old spots for the first time since my Olympic trip with my father.
I loved every minute of the memories, simply able to relive so much in my mind by just seeing the venues. The luge track in Park City brought back more than a few of those memories. We had a spectacular time watching Armin Zoeggeler from Italy beat out long-time stalwart Georg Hackl from Germany for the gold; standing so close to the track watching the sleds rumble by is an amazing experience. Unfortunately it was missed a second time with the doubles luge, since I was back in our room sick; a week of standing out in freezing temperatures finally did me in.
 
I also experienced an amazing rush by walking through downtown Salt Lake City in search of our Olympic Legacy Plaza brick. It had been ten years since I was there, but I was somehow able to figure out my way around simply by the familiarity of the buildings I saw in the area surrounding the medals plaza. It was there that we had fun playing some games (right) and seeing the Barenaked Ladies play a live concert (below) after the medals earned during the day were awarded to the athletes.
The memories didn’t end there, though, as I was also able to see the ski jumping hills agains. It was there that we witnessed an amazing upset as a virtual unknown in Swiss Simon Ammann garnered the gold in both the K90 and K120 jumps. I couldn’t believe what we witnessed, and it was practically the talk of the Games for the week we were there.
I choked on the air and the memories all of these places produced. I couldn’t put what I was feeling into words, so I’m sure my fellow writers were more than a little befuddled by my actions and feelings over seeing all of these venues again. The years since seeing the Olympics has not dampened my feelings at all, instead it has only served to make my memories of them and their connection to my mother that much stronger; being there on the anniversary of her death, immersed in such an environment, created difficult and overwhelming emotions.
It ended with a smile for me, though, as I made one last stop before leaving Utah. A brief stop at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus warmed me the way in a way it was impossible to do when we stood out in the cold ten years before. It was here that the opening and closing ceremonies were held. And it was here that a full circle was made, from the night my father and I first arrived in the state for the Olympics to my departure from this trip. It was an amazing feeling of closure, walking outside of the stadium once again.
 
Old memories have now been remembered, ten years after the Olympic Games were played in Utah, and new ones have now been created. It is an amazing feeling and sense of relief that can only be described through a continuous stream of never-ending ramblings. That is for another time, though, as I surely want to return and experience more from the Utah Olympic venues. After all, many of them are open to the public now.

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