Get the Gold Medal Treatment at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs
We love the Olympic Games. For two weeks, the world comes together to watch the triumphs (and sometimes the tragedies) of the world’s elite athletes. We cannot wait for the Olympic Winter Games to begin this month in PyeongChang, South Korea.
In order to prepare our family for the sport of sitting in front of a television for hours to watch athletes push their bodies, we visited the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Here, we got insights into what it takes to train for the Olympics and took a gold medal tour of the training facility (yes, we had to have at least one sporty pun).
History of the U.S. Olympic Training Center
The 35-acre Colorado Spring facility, one of three U.S. training centers, is a former U.S. Air Force base and one time home to NORAD. The facility was sold to the U.S. Olympic Committee in the 1970s for $1. It was the first and largest U.S. Olympic training center (the others in Chula Vista, CA and Lake Placid, NY).
The grounds house a Velodrome, Olympic-size pool, indoor shooting range, boxing ring, and numerous gymansiums and weight rooms. There are two residents’ halls and a cafeteria for the athletes.
What to Expect
When you arrive at the center, you will go to a guard station. At the station, you will be directed to the visitors center. Be aware that smoking is prohibited at the facility. Also, you cannot have weapons or carry backpacks into the center. You will find locked doors throughout the facility to protect the athletes and the facilities equipment.
I wanted to roam freely throughout the complex with my camera in hand, but I understood the need for security at the center. Still, I longed for an opportunity to break free from our guided tour for some solo exploration.
The Visitors Center
All guests are directed to the visitors center. Here, you can register for a guided tour. Tours run at the top of every hour.
While waiting for your tour to begin, you can explore the building, which includes a bobsled the kids (and adults) can get in, displays of uniforms worn by medal-winning athletes, and interactive computer screens that allow you to learn about the athletes and stories of past Olympic games.
Of course, there is a gift shop, which only accepts Visa (the official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team).
Our tour began with a 15-minute video which highlights the training regimen of some of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes at the center and the rehabilitation and sports medicine facilities on site. The video concludes with stirring video of famous Olympic moments.
Our tour director, Bob, led us and about 50 other visitors throughout the complex. The tour is a fast-paced jaunt through some of the facilities. Wheelchair access is abundant throughout (the center, after all, provides service for Paralympic athletes), and Bob was cognizant of the interests and needs of guests both young and old.
We were led out of the visitors center into an outdoor quad area where we saw flags from all the nations that have sent athletes to the Games. Also, on top of the visitor center building is a Olympic cauldron, the flame remaining lit during the Games.
Throughout the quad, we saw sculptures and other artwork representing various sports and athletes who have competed in past games.
Of course the highlight of the tour was seeing some of the facilities. We were lucky to see much of the gymnastics apparatus out on our tour since there had been a juvenile competition held that morning. While there, we also saw a youth Judo tournament, and saw some athletes training in both the swimming pool and the velodrome.
One of the more interesting facilities to tour was the indoor shooting range. We enjoyed learning about the skill and training of our award-winning sharpshooters. The kids also enjoyed the boxing center, complete with a boxing ring and a roll-up garage door for those hot summer training days.
The final stop on our tour was to the training room with state-of-the-art training equipment for all of the athletes. If you are lucky, you may see athletes from all of the sports together using the facility.
We enjoyed our visit and tour of the center. Unfortunately, we saw few athletes actively training since we toured on a Saturday afternoon. Also, the quick pace to the tour left us wanting a little more time to stop and take pictures.
We really enjoyed the visitors center and the videos which gave the adults a nostalgic reminder of games past and the kids some history of past athletes.
Disclaimer: We were delighted to be the guests of the U.S. Olympics Training Center. As always, all opinion are our own. You can read our disclosure here.