The recovery in Seattle was smashed the first day in Colorado as we spent the day traveling from Greeley to Colorado Springs. Just after 6am we boarded our UNC study abroad office vans and started the sleepy drive south.
First stop was the US Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs, one of only 3 in the country. Similar to the Australian Institute of Sport back home, we were able to get a tour of the facilities. With the Olympic Games starting in two days it was quiet with most athletes away. There are however few athletes that reside on-site although the wrestling program does. The centre acts predominantly as a camp based venue with facilities you might expect anywhere such as strength and conditioning gym, pool, court based venues with the addition of more specialized sports medicine and sports science facilities. It is a nice venue but does not compare favorably to the Australian set-up in part due to its reliance on corporate sponsorship and donations but perhaps more due to the emphasis on the college sport system.
USOC performance lab
USOC strength and conditioning
Next we headed to the Garden of the Gods, a picturesque area just out of Colorado Springs with unusual and dramatic rock features. It was an opportunity to have lunch and check out the unusual surrounds with a few short hikes.
Our opportunity to get a first glimpse at the collegiate sporting system was at the Air Force Academy, just north of Colorado Springs. We toured their sporting venues which for around 2,000 students were unbelievable. The list of facilities is too long to mention, but you will get an idea from the pictures. As an example, there are 4x American Football field for 1 team! 1 x outside grass field, 1x outside turf field, 1x indoor football field (you read right) and the match field. The Air Force Academy are considered a mid-tier NCAA Division 1 college.
It was a great day to see many of the differences and similarities between the US and Australian sorting systems.