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Olympian snafu at Sniktau
Roger Rapoport
February 15, 1971
When Denver set out to snare the 1976 Winter Games, it picked a site that now seems to be deficient in several elements—including snow
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February 15, 1971

Olympian Snafu At Sniktau

When Denver set out to snare the 1976 Winter Games, it picked a site that now seems to be deficient in several elements—including snow

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Despite the fact that the Games are five years away, one immediate result of this uproar is that the Colorado legislature recently put off a request from the committee for a $300,000 supplemental appropriation. State Senator Harry M. Locke, chairman of the assembly's budget committee, says, "We've already given them $475,000 so they could sell Denver to the International Olympic Committee. But they will have to answer a long list of questions for us before they get any more."

It looks like snow-making would be the only solution for the lower elevations of Sniktau and an absolute embarrassment for a state like Colorado—which is what real snow is all about. As for transportation to the competition sites, the favored approach now calls for banning private cars and ferrying tens of thousands to and from the events via private buses. This move came when it grew clear that Sniktau cannot handle the traffic load and Evergreen flatly does not want to. One plan to use Evergreen Lake as a parking lot for 1,800 cars was killed after someone figured out that they would crack the ice and sink from sight.

Right now many experts feel that the only salvation for the 1976 Winter Games is relocation. Richard Taylor, a competitor at Squaw Valley and now a teacher at Denver's Temple Buell College, says, "It's going to look a little silly when foreign stars come thousands of miles and end up skiing on artificial snow in marginal terrain." And, because of the barrage of criticism, Farwell is scouting new eastern slope locations for the Nordics.

But such critics as Dr. Peter Metzger, president of the Colorado Committee for Environmental Information, are not impressed. "The only real solution," he insists, "is to put the Olympics on the western slope."

Evidencing concern, the Denver Organizing Committee is looking at Copper Mountain, an emerging western slope area, as an alternative. Completion of the long-planned Straight Creek Tunnel under the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass would put Copper Mountain within the required time from Denver. But tunnel construction has been hampered by deficits, small cave-ins and a fire.

Through all this storm the DOC sees its current troubles as a minor setback and points to me support of Governor John Love, Denver Mayor William McNichols and the thousands of townsfolk who have donated $2 each to buy Olympic lapel pins. The committee's Bill Brown says, "All the dissident groups are using us as a whipping boy." Later this year the committee expects to bring a delegation of IOC representatives to town to look at all the alternate sites. And if the IOC does not accept a new site? "Well," says Brown, "I guess Evergreen is just going to have to eat it."

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