PARK CITY, Utah (AP) _ Olympic organizers want Utah residents to catch the Olympic spirit before 2002.
The Salt Lake Organizing Committee has said that 16 professional winter sports competitions _ including six national championships and seven international competitions _ are coming to the 2002 Winter Olympic venues during the next six months.
About 60 events are planned at the venues before the Olympics.
The competitions give the organizing committee a way to test the venues before the games. The committee also hopes residents will flock to the competitions for a chance to see some of the world's best athletes.
``They're going to see the same athletes in the Olympics,'' Cathy Priestner Allinger, SLOC managing director of sports, said.
SLOC spokesman Frank Zang said tickets to the pre-Olympic events will cost from $1 to $15. Tickets for Olympic events will range from $20 to $425.
The next competitions is the short track speed skating World Cup Oct. 29-31 at the Peaks Ice Arena in Provo.
Some of the cheapest tickets will be for events this winter at Soldier Hollow, the Olympic cross country and biathlon track.
Lyle Nelson, SLOC director of Soldier Hollow, wants about 100,000 spectators for the U.S. Cross Country Championships Jan. 8-15 and the U.S. Biathlon Championships Feb. 1-6. He thinks if there's any charge for the events, it will be $1 for a raffle ticket.
Nelson said spectators won't be disappointed. ``You can get up close, you can have lunch with (the athletes), you can ask them how they wax their skis ... If you wanted you could reach out and touch someone.''
Other events planned this winter are:
_ GS-Slalom World Cup, Nov. 18-21, Park City Mountain Resort.
_ Women's Downhill-Super G Super Series, Jan. 27-Feb. 1, Snowbasin Ski Resort.
_ Women's Slalom World Cup, Feb. 6, Deer Valley Ski Resort.
_ Women's Downhill-Super G World Cup, Feb. 7-12, Snowbasin Ski Area.
_ Men's Downhill-Super G Super Series, Feb. 22-27, Snowbasin Ski Area.
_ Snowboard World Cup, March 3-5, Park City Mountain Resort.