That assessment from Lane Beattie, a West Bountiful resident and now Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce CEO, came after a whirlwind visit to Torino last week. "It took us 22 hours from the time we left to the time we arrived. We had three days on the ground and were in meetings within 2-1/2 hours after landing," he told the Clipper. And with time to view only the Opening Ceremonies and one or two other Olympic events, he came away after many meetings feeling good about Utah's chances to host the games again.
"I was there to discuss World Cup events. That's so important. It makes a difference if athletes come to Utah to practice at our facilities," Beattie said.
"The USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee) has some interest in putting together a possibility of another (Utah) bid down the road," he said.
Among factors that would play in Utah's favor, Beattie cited: "Utah has the closest venues of any place on this earth. Our hotels, infrastructure, the closeness, ease of getting around, international airport (are) right at your door."
Salt Lake City wouldn't be the first city to host the games a second time. Lillehammer, Norway, and Lake Placid, N.Y., both have had second shots as host Olympics communities.
"Lillehammer did it when Denver cancelled a year or two prior to the games," Beattie said. "If that were ever to happen again, we would be in a position to step forward.
"Few places on earth could put together (a bid) so fast. With our citizens, and our facilities, we are second to none," he said.
"Utah is a very unique place in the world. You think about our ticket sales. We sold 96 percent of all our tickets. At times 40 percent of those were to Utahns (for certain events). That's unheard of."
He emphasized that "it's unfair to compare Salt Lake City to Torino. They're different worlds. The facilities (in Torino) are wonderful. The games are being put on and competitors are having a positive experience.
"But when it comes to a community that rallies to a cause, I don't think there's another place on earth that has the community spirit Utah has," he said enthusiastically.
"That's one reason the games were so superb. Obviously, I'm a little biased, am very proud of Utahns. We put our hearts into it. It was very important to us.
"I come back to the citizenry. The organization was strong, but there were several factors" leading to strong local support, Beattie recalled. "We had celebrations throughout the entire state, had grade schools put on music programs, parades in communities that never saw the Olympic torch, banners waving from the majority of Utah cities. You don't see that in Europe.
"We had 9-11. That also reminded people in Utah, and around the world, how special the U.S. is. In the U.S., and certainly in Utah, that brought out a patriotism that is rarely seen," he said.
"When you compare countries to states, our state is larger than most European countries," Beattie continued. "We also are unified as a nation. I think that is a difference.
"Utah had some real benefits," the former real estate agent said. "Everywhere we went, it didn't matter if it was in a hotel, taxi, restaurant, people would ask where we were from. When we said SLC, there was an immediate, positive response.
"'Oh, Salt Lake City, we loved their games.' People remember that. I just compliment Utah's citizens. They truly were Utah's games."