PARK CITY, UT – Olympic champions Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) were among numerous national athletes on hand as the first round of U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding competitors made their way into the new Center of Excellence. The national training and education center opened its doors to athletes this week in preparation for the Olympics in Vancouver just over nine months away.
The Center is the USSA’s home for athletes and employees alike. It features state of the art facilities throughout the building, including a large athletic training area, an aerials and snowboard ramps and tramps area, gymnasium, sports medicine recovery and rehab room, nutrition center, equipment and sport science lab.
While staff moved boxes into the new Center, athletes began to arrive for training and testing – anxious to check out their new home on Thursday.
Mancuso was among the first athletes to train and was stunned by the new athletic training facility during her annual athletic testing. “It’s probably the nicest gym I have ever been to. It’s much different. The old training center wasn’t a place where you wanted to hang out. I think it’s awesome,” Mancuso said.
Training alongside the Olympian were fellow women’s alpine teammates Hailey Duke (Boise, ID) and Megan McJames (Park City, UT), who were both happy to be able to use their new home. For McJames, while the Center is in her hometown, she hopes that fellow athletes living across the nation will flock to the new building and utilize in reaching their goals.
“We’re here testing everything out and taking the price tags off the machines – getting a little sweat on everything,” McJames said. “This is a really exciting tool for us to be able to utilize in Park City and hopefully we can get more athletes out here and this place can help them reach their dreams.”
According to Duke, in addition to facilitating athletic excellence among the athletes, the center will provide the community a deeper understanding of what goes into being an athlete.
“We have all the tools right here. It’s pretty nice to have everything all accessible and I think it will benefit us more in the long run,” Duke said. “People will be able to see what we do and be more in tune with the athletes and what we need.”
While the women’s alpine squad tested throughout the first two days, other athletes were visiting the Center to take advantage of its state-of-the-art rehabilitation center. Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety spent time working out and swimming in the hydrotherapy pool.
Friday brought even more athletic life to the Center with the likes of freestyle aerialists Emily Cook (Belmont, MA) and Dylan Ferguson (Ridgway, CO), along with alpine women Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN).
“Basically we have absolutely everything we need here. The recovery center is absolutely amazing, the testing facilities are incredible and the physical therapy section is perfect, so I’m excited. It’s just fun to come in and have something new,” Cook said. “I think it’s going to motivate everyone a little extra. I just did my first workout here and it was great. We have everything we need here and it’s nice to have everyone here.”
While Ferguson agrees that seeing everyone working together at the Center is great, there’s another feature that’s his favorite part of the new facility.
“My first thought is that the skate bowl is amazing. I am all into the skateboarding thing. The tramps look great, as well,” Ferguson said. “It is way better than the last gym. I think with all the equipment it will be easier to get our workouts in. It’s also nice see everyone that works here upstairs and it’s nice to see all the athletes working out here.”
While Ferguson and Cook spent time training, the alpine women took part in athletic testing and, according to Vonn, the best part of working out at the Center of Excellence is the amount of equipment available.
“This is awesome,” Vonn said. “I’m glad that there is a lot of equipment. I used to have to go to a gym in order to work out, but now I can get everything done here.”
In the end, Richardson said that the bottom line is that the Center will motivate everyone to be a better athlete.
“It blew away all the preconceived notions. Everyone knew it was going to be nice, but everything is state-of-the-art, there’s plenty of room, and it’s cool that the whole community is under one roof,” Richardson said. “I think the camaraderie and the sense of community is just going to build and it will be a fun place to work out. It’s definitely going to be motivating to work out in here with all the other athletes in this nice facility.”
The Center of Excellence is officially open for operation, but a public opening will be held in July.