COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The city of Colorado Springs is known as one of the premiere sporting cities in the world, serving as the home to more than 50 national sporting organizations, as well as the United States Olympic Committee and one of three U.S. Olympic Training Centers. With the unveiling of a new seasonal dome covering the U.S. Olympic Training Center Velodrome during the winter months, the city furthered its status among those elite sporting cities around the globe.
On Dec. 7, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, USA Cycling CEO and President Derek Bouchard-Hall, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and two-time Olympic silver medalist track cyclist Sarah Hammer formally introduced the new dome that will allow cyclists to train all season long in Colorado Springs.
“This is a game changer,” said Bouchard-Hall, a retired Olympic track cyclist who primarily used the velodrome during his training days. “This now gives us a facility that we can use in the winter, which was never possible before. That, along with the fact that it’s here at altitude, gives us an extraordinary venue. In fact, this is possibly the fastest track in the world now. I think you will see some people coming here to set world records.”
Suthers echoed the praise that Bouchard-Hall gave the new facility, saying that the addition helps “Colorado Springs lay claim to the title ‘Olympic City, USA.’” Suthers also made note of the economic impact of the new dome, as well as its impact on the community. The velodrome is open to the public and offers nearly 1,000 hours a year of community programming for the city’s youth.
The grand opening of the dome also featured a sport demonstration from top U.S. cyclists. Allison Jones, a four-time Paralympic cycling medalist, took to the track first to show the crowd how track cycling looks inside the dome. Track cyclists and Olympic hopefuls Danny Robertson and Madalyn Godby demonstrated what a race on the track looked like as well.
While the demonstration was going on, USA Cycling Track Director Andy Sparks joined Hammer to provide insights on the action on the track and on what the addition to the track means to athletes and coaches as they prepare for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.
“We can really quantify what it takes to win an Olympic medal,” Sparks said.
The dome blocks any wind, rain and, in the case of Colorado Springs during this time of year, snow, allowing for a much more realistic simulation of what a track race will feel like at the Olympics and Paralympics.
The new facility will be put to the test when it hosts the 2015 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling National Championships on Dec. 12-13, an event that will feature elite U.S. Paralympians and Paralympic hopefuls. Various sprint and endurance events will be competed in during the two-day event that serves as the first major competition at the velodrome since the addition of the dome. The velodrome is also set to host athletes from around the world in a U.S. Grand Prix series stop next July.