An Olympic Tale: The Fires Within

It wasn’t just the altitude of Salt Lake City. The air seemed static with a special quality, maybe from the mix of breaths from all around the world The Olympic Games would start the next morning.

I was in Salt Lake City as a guest of a company called Bombardier. Those in the outdoor recreation field know the company as a manufacturer of Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Sea-Doo personal watercraft, ATVs and snow-grooming equipment, but they also are among the world’s leading manufacturers in the fields of aerospace (regional airliners and business jets) and mass transportation (rail passenger-car equipment).

Bombardier was a supplier for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games, and provided 45 snow grooming machines, 125 snowmobiles and 110 ATVs. The company hosted outdoor writers at the Olympics to introduce us to their new ATV, the Quest, which was used at the games to carry equipment and transport broadcast and security personnel.

Innovative Features
The 650 cc. Quest has innovative design features, which will make it very popular with outdoor people. Those features include — the industry’s largest gas tank (5.8 gallons), an on-board 400-watt generator with front and rear access ports, full-time four-wheel drive, an eight-gallon dry storage box, automatic transmission and a rear-mounted radiator to protect it from brush and debris.

Bombardier was a supplier for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games of snow grooming machines, snowmobiles and ATVs. Here’s the 650 cc. Quest.

Most four-wheel drive ATVs in reality only have two wheels driving — one on each axle. The Quest has an axle design called Visco-Lok, which means if one wheel is off the ground, spinning, the other wheel on the axle will take over. Plus, the Quest will be available in Realtree camouflage.

Representatives from Bombardier met us at a restaurant in Salt Lake City. I arrived about 45 minutes early, and decided to explore the town, and maybe find the Mormon Temple. While gawking at the temple, I realize that people had started to gather along the sidewalks nearby, as if saving places to view a parade.

Then at a distance I could hear shouts and cheers, and the occasional brief siren. The sound steadily grew. A Chevrolet SUV eased by, and I saw the Olympic slogan, “Light the Fire Within,” on its side. Behind the vehicle came a runner carrying the Olympic torch. The female runner was petite, and hard to spot, but the light from the torch was visible as she held it high above the moving throng around her. At the street corner, she passed the torch to the next runner, on the final leg of its long journey to the opening ceremonies of the games.

Full Spectrum Of Sports
During the next few days, our group experienced the full spectrum of the Olympic Games. We saw the Ladies’ Freestyle Moguls, the Men’s Downhill, one night’s medal ceremonies, and a hockey game between Slovakia and Latvia. We were checked with detecting wands at security checkpoints, we withstood long waits in line and traffic jams, we sat in brutal winds at 8,000 feet in metal stands, we squeezed our way onto shuttle buses.

Years from now I probably won’t remember who won the medals at the events I saw. But I’ll remember that the family of Jillian Vogtli from New York, a competitor in the ladies freestyle moguls, carried signs with her likeness. I remember that although she didn’t have her best day, they cheered her wildly. I remember that the hockey team from Latvia looked young and small, and that the letters on the jerseys appeared to have been ironed on — their long names weren’t even centered over their numbers. Experts said Slovakia, with three NHL players on their team, would blow them out by 10 goals. Yet Latvia scrapped them to a 6-6 tie.

That’s what I liked best about the Olympics, and what draws me to sports’ competitions. It’s not just seeing just the best athletes but seeing the range of athletics — the struggles of the underdogs, the elation of the winners, the disappointments, the grace and the grit, all of it part of the mix in the athlete’s desire to improve, both in performance and character.

Every athlete competing had experienced all those things in their journey to compete at that level, so in a sense the Olympics unites athletes from all over the world who already recognize and know each other in some basic way.

I didn’t know it then, but that’s what I was seeing as I watched the light from the Olympic torch make its way down that dark street leading to the opening ceremonies. I could hear the crowd roar as it came into their view. It’s just a little light, but it’s the symbol of an ideal and a hope for all the athletes, and for us, too. You can find a fire within and keep it burning. If you do, you can get to wherever you want to go.

Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.