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Reader Participation Day: Should A National Park Ever Host Winter Olympics Events?


This two track toboggan run was located in a national park in 1928. NPS photo.

With all the current attention on the Winter Olympics, we have a two-part question for this week's Reader Participation Day: In an earlier era, a U. S. National Park was one of three finalists vying for the right to host the 1932 Winter Olympics. Do you know which park was in contention then...and should an NPS site ever be considered for some events for a future Winter Games?

The Winter Olympics have changed almost beyond recognition since the 1932 games, which included athletes from only 17 countries competing in 14 events. This year's version reportedly involve 88 nations and competition in nearly a hundred events, with billions of dollars spent on elaborate facilities for everything from ski jumping and luge to bobsleds and figure skating.

Bids are already in for the 2022 edition of the Olympics, but the hopes by some in a previous generation for a winter games in a U. S. national park brings us to our second question of the day: Should a future bid by a U. S. city for a Winter Olympics include the possibility of holding any activities in an NPS area?

Events which require enormous facilities, such as stadiums seating tens of thousands of spectators, would seem to be a non-starter for a park, but what about competitions such as cross country skiing or even the biathlon? Proposals to host even more events were made in 1932, when supporters suggested a major role for a national park in that year's games.

In today's world, where some suggest parks need to find new ways to attract visitors—and sources of revenue—the idea could arise again if cities such as Seattle (near Mount Rainier N.P.) or Denver (near Rocky Mountain N.P.) decided to bid for a future Winter Olympics.

So, can you identify the national park that was a finalist for the 1932 winter games ...and should the idea be considered again on even a limited basis in the future?


I recently stumbled onto a photo essay from Reuters of the relics of Olympic facilities in and around Sarajevo. It was a pictorial of the worst you could hope for in such a case.

Glad to see that so far, everyone agrees on this one!

Please, please no. I'd think after what happened in the 70s that Denver would be a non-starter, anyway (what happens if they change their minds again?), which is good.

But please don't try to hold the Olympics on my beloved Mt. Rainier.

Besides, if Seattle was to host the games (heaven forbid), there are much better (already commercialized) places in the Cascades to hold skiing events of any kind, cross-country or downhill.

AACK!  NO!  Ditto tahoma, Owen Hoffman, and rmackie.  The mere thought makes me shudder.

Yosemite, yes great job tahoma. I also vote no on holding a winter Olympics in a National Park. Owen has it right, there are already great areas in which to hold the event.

I vote "NO!", but I guess the key word here is "Ever".

We now have national park units dedicated to American history associated with railroads, the cattle industry, jazz music, etc. Civil War "re-enactments" also occur at several NPS historical sites.

So, in 500 years or so, why not have Vail, CO, Aspen, CO, Sun Valley, ID, or Squaw Valley, CA designated as a National Historic Site, and hold the Olympics there as a form of a "living history" celebation?

Good job, tahoma, on being the first to identify Yosemite as the candidate for the 1932 Winter Olympics.

Thanks for sharing the other information!


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