COLORADO SPRINGS - Colorado Springs, known as America's Olympic City, will once again celebrate the opening of the world's largest sporting event and the gathering of the world's best athletes in spectacular fashion.
The City of Colorado Springs, the Downtown Development Authority, the United States Olympic Committee and the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation will stage a gala Olympic Downtown Celebration on Friday beginning at 5 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The highlight of the evening will be the NBC broadcast of the Opening Ceremony from Sochi on a 17-foot wide LCD television unit on Tejon Street just south of Platte Avenue, where spectators can enjoy the magnificent opening ceremonies and the arrival of the powerful 245-athlete United States Olympic Team at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium, which will also be the venue for the Closing Ceremony of the Games on Feb. 23.
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games from Sochi will be carried in Colorado Springs and Southern Colorado by KOAA-TV, with Sports Director Jordan Mason on hand in the Russian Olympic city to deliver special reporting for area viewers.
Sochi will also host the Paralympic Winter Games March 7 to 16 for the world's best athletes with disabilities in five major sports.
Colorado Springs staged Olympic Downtown Celebrations in 2012 and 2013, with some 20,000 spectators gathering downtown on the evening of the Opening Ceremony from London on July 27, 2012.
Last summer, some 12,000 were on hand for a variety of events and entertainment designed to celebrate the city's worldwide reputation as the home of the USOC and more than two dozen of its National Governing Bodies of Olympic, Pan American Games and Paralympic sports and the opening of the 2013 Rocky Mountain State Games in Colorado Springs.
The city is home to USA Hockey, U.S. Figure Skating and the U.S. Bobsled Federation among those in charge of preparing and developing athletes for the Winter Games.
The USOC relocated from New York City to Colorado Springs beginning in 1977 with the opening of its flagship Olympic Training Center in September. The organization's national headquarters, Olympic House, opened in the summer of 1978 and served as its base of operations until the move to downtown Colorado Springs in 2010 to a six-story, 126,000-square-foot modern, refurbished structure in the heart of the city and an agreement to remain in Colorado Springs for the next 30 years as its national headquarters.
The 35-acre grounds of the U.S. Olympic Training Center are undergoing substantial renovations and new construction as part of the agreement, much of it designated to improve the quality of life and training facilities for the thousands of athletes who use the facility each year.
Money for the project comes from a $16 million fund designated for OTC improvements as part of $40 million incentive package awarded by the city in 2009 to keep the USOC in Colorado Springs.
Construction crews are working on expanding the training center's sports science facility. When completed the makeover will be about 16,000 square feet and will significantly improve the USOC's sports medicine and recovery center, according to reports published in the Gazette and other local media.
The other project is a new 35,000-square-foot strength and conditioning building adjacent to the medicine and recovery center, allowing resident athletes to be more efficient and optimize training time.
The strength and conditioning area will feature an indoor agility field, an elevated training track and viewing area for visitors to get a glimpse of Olympic athletes doing their thing.
According to the USOC, the training center can house up to 557 coaches and athletes. National governing bodies for USA Shooting and USA Swimming have their offices on the OTC campus.
Preparations for the Games in Sochi are at full speed at the USOC, the National Governing Bodies of Skiing, Ice Hockey, Bobsled & Skeleton, Speed Skating and Short Track Speed Skating, Curling, Biathlon, Figure Skating, Luge and Bobsled and Skeleton at training sites in the United States and a handful of international locations.
The United States Olympic Team surprised the world by winning the medals race with 37, ahead of Germany with 30 and host Canada with 26 medals.
In Sochi, the United States, Russia, Germany, Canada and Norway are expected to battle it out for the medals chase.
All of the drama begins for residents of Colorado Springs on Friday evening in downtown, no matter snow or chilly temperatures. That's the spirit of the Olympic Winter Games.
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