Colorado Springs enjoys a connection to the 2014 Winter Olympics that no other American city shares. This is home of the United States Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Complex, the Olympic Training Center, 20-plus governing bodies for Olympic teams, two international sports federations, U.S. Paralympics, countless Olympians and Olympic medal winners and more. We are the year-round home of America's greatest athletes.
The Springs is also blessed by the Colorado Springs Sports Corp., which brought a taste of this year's Winter Olympics kickoff to downtown with a bash on Friday that coincided with the opening ceremonies in Sochi. The event on Tejon Street featured an impressive list of elite athletes and other celebrities, along with death-defying snowmobile jumping, an 80-foot climbing wall and dog sledding. Television station KOAA TV (channel 5) broadcast the opening ceremonies on a 17-foot-long LCD TV. Downtown crowds also had the advantage of watching events on TV screens at beer gardens and in the Cripple Creek Vodka zone, sponsored by the Cripple Creek Chamber of Commerce.
Athletes signed autographs and residents ran a 1-mile fun run. It was another night to remember in Colorado Springs. It was the kind of night that makes Colorado Springs so special among America's 50 largest cities.
While watching the Olympics this year from the comfort of our homes or favorite bar stools, we should give thanks for the opportunity to host the USOC and governing boards that make Olympic participation possible for the rest of our country. The medals will be won in Russia, but much of the preparation took place right here - more than a mile high and at the base of Pikes Peak, America's mountain.
Hosting the largest chunk of America's Olympic organizational structure has never been a daunting sacrifice. Rather, it has been a privilege and an asset from the time the USOC relocated from New York to Colorado Springs in 1978. It has given the state and this community a cache other cities and states can only envy for now. New York, Chicago and a host of other great cities would love to lure the USOC and all other Olympics-related organizations from our community. They want what we had Friday night in the heart of downtown. They want friends, neighbors and colleagues who are directly involved in the world's most elite sporting event.
The Olympics are a symbol of human achievement and what is right with humanity. They symbolize youth, health, vitality and the rewards of pushing our limits. They remind us that countries can join together for friendly competition, setting aside differences to share culture and appreciation of achievement.
Going forward, our community should embrace the American Olympic community with joy and gratitude. We should constantly find ways to show our athletes, coaches and Olympic executives why this is the finest place in the United States to train and prepare for future competitions.
This is not just some ordinary place, similar to other cities of a half million people. It is a community that admires excellence and attracts champions from around the world. Let's take that to heart this year while enjoying the 2014 Winter Olympics. Following the lead of the world's great athletes, let's strive to improve. Onward and upward, Colorado Springs.