Former KSL TV anchor reflects back on day Utah was awarded 2002 Winter Olympics

Jul 8, 2024, 7:10 PM | Updated: Jul 9, 2024, 6:28 am

SALT LAKE CITY When Utahns gather in downtown Salt Lake City to celebrate Pioneer Day, they’ll also have the chance to celebrate the anticipated IOC announcement that Salt Lake City has been awarded the 2034 Winter Olympics.

For many, the moment will be reminiscent of June 16, 1995.

“It was just fabulous because everyone was just so excited because we didn’t know for sure if we were going to get the games,” said Keith McCord, long-time news anchor for KSLTV, who was broadcasting live coverage of the announcement from Washington Square.

As the International Olympic Committee announcement was made in Budapest, Hungary, roughly 40,000 people erupted in celebration outside the Salt Lake City and County Building. McCord said the cheering was so loud it sounded like a touchdown at the Super Bowl, he says it lasted more than 10 minutes.

“When they said the city of Salt Lake and the place exploded, and with how loud it was and how long it went, we just sat there and stared, we couldn’t believe it, it was really cool,” McCord said. “They were all just crammed in there like sardines, it was nuts.”

Memories of that day

In that moment, McCord was ready with his camera and started snapping photos as quickly as he could. Today, those photos hold a special place in his heart.

“People were dressed up, they had food, there was the yo-yo champ of the world, here’s one of Carole Mikita sitting on set with Steve Young,” McCord said while laying out the photos on his kitchen table.

McCord said the celebration on June 16, 1995, was the moment the Games became a reality for many Utahns. It kicked off the next seven years of preparations.

“After that, there was this incredible vibe that these things were coming, granted it was seven years down the road, but more and more events took place that got people involved, they asked for volunteers to be part of it as we got closer to the games, and you could see everybody say the world is going to be watching us,” McCord said.

Reflecting on the 2002 Games, McCord said it was one of the highlights of his career. He says it was one of the most challenging events he’s ever covered, and yet, one of the most rewarding. He said it’s exciting knowing Utahns will experience it again.

“I’ve never worked so hard and never had more fun than working the Olympics,” he said. “There was a story on every street corner, all you had to do was walk down the street.”

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Former KSL TV anchor reflects back on day Utah was awarded 2002 Winter Olympics