Olympic athletes to give public preview at Eccles Ice Center
With the completion of the George S. Eccles Ice Center, USU students may preview Olympic athletes as they make their way to Logan for pre-Games practice sessions.
"In preparation for the Olympics in Salt Lake City, four Olympic teams will be practicing in the arena," marketing and public relations director Joe Vizenor said. "All the practice sessions are free for the public."
The Chinese short-track speed skaters, Russian and French figure skaters, and Swiss hockey team each have reserved time at the new arena. Practices began Jan. 5 and will continue until Feb. 16.
Spectators may reserve tickets seven days in advance of the scheduled practice they wish to attend. All practice sessions are broken into three sections, with a morning, afternoon and evening section. Viewers may chose which event they want to attend by picking up a schedule at the arena or by checking the arena's website at www.ice.bridgerland.net.
Vizenor said that as the arena neared completion, Salt Lake Organization Committee (SLOC) recommended teams and athletes to the ice center. The arena received inquiries from the four teams that are here this winter.
Vizenor said that so far, the practice sessions have been packed with each section sold out. Spectators have loved the opportunity to get a sneak preview to the games and to learn more about the history of the events and brief facts about each athlete. He said the crowd has been amazed at the skaters' speed and agility on the ice.
"The Chinese probably think it's strange we're so interested," Vizenor speculated. "But they get a kick out of it!"
In addition to free daily practice sessions, the arena, along with Gossner Foods, is sponsoring three public performances. The French figure skaters, Russian figure skaters, along with a Switzerland vs. Slovakia hockey game will all be part of the line-up during the month of February. Tickets for these performances are $40 each, per event, and can be reserved at 787-2288.
"This is something that will never happen again," Vizenor said.
These practices are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students, he said.