By Randall Shirley (Impact Magazine) -- I’M IN PURE BLISS, lying on Roger Olbrot’s massage table in Salt Lake City. If I make my brain squint, it’s February 2002, and I’m an Olympic athlete preparing to ski my way to a gold medal.
I’m having my muscles worked on by Olbrot, director of massage during the Games, who applies the perfect pressure to my glutes and gives my hamstrings a good stretch.
But it’s 2013, and I’m no Olympic athlete. I am, however, enjoying an exquisite massage. I’m in Utah to explore its Olympic legacy, and Olbrot’s talented hands are a part of that – the same hands that worked on world-class athletes now provide my own gold medal experience for $60.
I lived in Salt Lake City for many years and moved away to Vancouver just before Utah’s Olympics began. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the state since, so at IMPACT’s suggestion, I returned to visit with open eyes.
Salt Lake (the “city” is usually dropped) nestles into the gorgeous Wasatch Mountains and it’s hard to imagine the IOC turned down the city’s earlier offers to host the Games. After all, the place long boasted stadium and arena venues that seemed appropriate for the Olympics, not to mention 10 ski resorts within an hour’s drive of the airport.
Perfect setting aside, it took bribery by those supposedly squeaky-clean Utahns to win the Olympics for their state. When that scandal was exposed, a level of hell broke loose that required the white-knight talents of future U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romeny to bring under control. The Games’ positive reputation was rebuilt and they became the most fun-filled time Utahn’s will likely ever experience.
The novel concept of nightly medal ceremonies followed by big-name music acts helped fuel the merriment – a legacy which has continued in other Olympics.