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Catch the Olympic Spirit!

Can't wait for the Olympics to start? Head to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. It's one of only three U.S. Olympic training centers. Apolo Ohno, Shani Davis, and Allison Baver - Olympic speed skaters, all trained here at some point and the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team was visiting when I was there.You can go on a tour of the facility where Olympic athletes live and train.You watch a fascinating short movie about Olympians and then head off onthe tour. Some of the tour guides are resident athletes and Olympians. Life size metal silouttes of athletes competing in Olympic sports dot the grounds. Flags from every country that competes in the Olympics line the pathway. Our first stop was the multi-purpose gym. The men's gymnastics team trains here and on the day we visited, wrestlers from China and Japan competed in a training camp. Many athletes train at the Colorado Springs Olympic Center for high altitude benefits. The shooting gallery and wrestling gyms are other stops on the tour. The full size Olympic pool sports cameras above and below the water so athletes can review their swims. The pool is 50m by 25m and is designed in a V shape so water pressure is equal in all lanes. The pool also has a tow line so swimmers can feel what world record pace feels like. Michael Phelps towed the tow line when he visited! The athlete resident halls at the center host Olympic hopefuls and visiting teams. To live at the training center, athletes must perform in the top 10-15% of their sport. Inside the visitor center is an Olympic Hall of Fame, torches from previous US Olympic Games, a wall of Olympians with computers to look up stats about any past or present Olympian, and a gift shop. There was even a bobsled to sit in! You can buy US Olympic team and Vancouver gear at the shop. Carissa Gump, former US Olympic weightlifter,was giving tours the day we visited. When she competed in Beijing, Carissa was number one in her weight division in the U.S.and she placed 13th out of 28 in the Olympics. She says, "You can be the best in your country and there are still people out there who are better than you." Her favorite part of the Beijing Olympics was the opening ceremonies and she loved being part of team USA. "Everyone on team USA is your teammate." The large torch on top of the building will be lit during the Olympics. As I left, I checked the large countdown to the Olympics sign on the building - 13 days! Olympic spirit is in the air! The training center is free and offers tours from 9-4 Monday through Saturday. You can also follow the U.S. athletes at TeamUSA.org

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