Thursday, October 21, 2010 Partly sunny, 65 degrees
U.S. Olympic Complex: There are three Olympic training centers in the U.S., one in Lake Placid, NY, another in Chula Vista, CA, and the one in Colorado Springs, CO. We arrived so early at the U.S. Olympic Complex that we were the only ones watching the introductory movie and the only ones on our tour. Flags from all of the participating countries are flown along the sidewalks within the complex, and an Olympic torch is on the roof of the Visitor Center. Although this is the training center for the summer games, life-sized metal sculptures of all Olympic sports are displayed on the lawns outside of the buildings. One of the most impressive is the long, curved luge run.
Our tour took us into several of the training centers. First we went into the men's gymnastics building where mats, rings, and pummel horses were ready for use; volleyball is located on the other side of that gym. Across the lawn the shooting range was set up for different distances and different types of guns. Another gym houses work-out areas for weight lifting, strength conditioning, wrestling, and women's gymnastics. Nearby the aquatic center provides lanes for both lap swimming and synchronized swimming with timers and video footage to aid the swimmers in perfecting their strokes. Lastly we were shown the Athlete Center which serves as both a dorm and dining room for resident athletes, their home away from home.
Back in the Visitor Center, a Hall of Fame honors athletes who have accomplished unusual fetes. For example at its entrance is a "track" twenty-nine feet, two and one half inches long which is the Olympic record for the long jump set by Bob Beamon in the 1968 Olympic Games. It is such a long distance that it doesn't seem humanly possible. Our tour gave us a greater appreciation for the dedication and accomplishments of our Olympic athletes.
World Figure Skating Museum: As you would assume, this museum houses memorabilia throughout the history of figure skating from the 1880's to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Costumes, skates, boots, posters, pins, programs, photos, trophies, and medals are on display. One video shows highlights of special skating moments, and in another Scott Hamilton demonstrates how the jumps and spins differ from one another. Biographical information reveals that most women skaters are between five feet and feet feet two inches tall, and most most men are five foot nine. The skating costumes of Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski, and Sarah Hughes illustrate just how tiny they are. We also read that those costumes cost between five and fifty thousand dollars! After watching figure skating over the years, it was interesting to read and learn about those men and women who have competed in the Olympics over the years.
Air Force Academy: The Visitor Center gives the history of the Air Force and the Academy. A film and displays also explain what qualities are required of incoming candidates and what roles they assume each year they are enrolled. The different academic majors and expectations are detailed. In addition to their studies, cadets must parachute jump, fly a glider, participate in either intercollegiate or intramural sports, and in the summer undergo military training. They obviously have very little spare time.
From the Visitor Center we walked to the much photographed Air Force Academy Chapel. Constructed of seventeen rows of spires, the frame is of tubular steel and one hundred tetrahedrons. These are spaced a foot apart, creating gaps that are filled with one inch colored glass. To encourage spiritual development of the cadets four chapels are available for all faiths. The Protestant Chapel fills the main floor where the affect of colored glass is most evident, and a mammoth pipe organ occupies the balcony. The smaller Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist Chapels are located in the lower level.
Next we took a driving tour of the grounds, passing various air craft and overlooking the football field. Meanwhile overhead we watched a glider doing flips, spins, and spirals, moves we've never seen a glider do before.
We really like the Colorado Springs area. It is vibrant, clean, and is nestled at the foot of Pike's Peak. The climate is pleasant most of the year, and the sky is cloudless. Snow that falls quickly melts, and we've grown to like the drier air throughout the high desert. We could easily take an extend vacation in Colorado.
TODAY'S ROUTE: from Manitou, CO, CO 24E to I 25N to Cheyenne, WY