Remembering 2002 • Traffic jam outside Snowbasin Resort enraged Olympic boss.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Mitt Romney called it the Games' "one goof."
On the first Sunday of the Olympics, the celebrated men's downhill race was taking place at Snowbasin Resort. But as Romney approached the Ogden Valley resort via its lengthy access roads, he encountered a traffic jam.
According to Shaun Knopp, a traffic coordinator who triggered the backup by prohibiting a bus to proceed because its credentials were wrong, Romney used the "F-word" twice in berating him for his intransigence. Romney denied using that word, adding that he hadn't said it since he was a teen.
From his 2004 book, Turnaround Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games, Romney gives this account of the pre-YouTube dispute:
"Finally, I came to the end of the bus line. Standing in the middle of the road was a police officer.
He had stopped the first bus and told the driver the bus did not have proper credentials to proceed. Every person in the bus was with the Olympic Family having full credentials, but the bus had the wrong color sticker.
The bus was too large to turn around in the narrow mountain road, so it was just stopped there. And the police officer wouldn't let any other bus pass.
"I was not happy. The event started in 20 minutes. People had been waiting here over 30 minutes. Many would inevitably miss the first, and best competitor, races. The policeman was not from Utah; he had come up from Colorado. He was not one of our volunteers who had been trained in adaptability, that was for sure. I expressed my frustration, including a jab or two of un-Mormon-like language. I told him to immediately release the bus and get all the buses out of there. What was he thinking?
"Throughout the Games, I encountered people who had been on that bus. One actually snapped a picture of me as I was walking up to it. The expression [on my face] is one only familiar to my boys after a serious youthful infraction."
Salt Lake Tribune stories from the Games period recounted that Romney later apologized to the Snowbasin venue commander for losing his temper but never acknowledged using that word.