Colorado Springs to Celebrate Team USA in Spectacular Fashion

20 Jul

Proceeds of Olympic Downtown Celebration to benefit wildfire relief

By Mimi Whetstone

On Friday, July 27, several national governing bodies will celebrate the Olympic spirit as the 2012 Olympic Summer Games commence in London.

U.S. Figure Skating will take a lead role in the Olympic Downtown Celebration, a first-time event set to take place from 4-10 p.m. (MDT) in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Tejon Street between Kiowa Street and Colorado Avenue.

Fans of figure skating will have the opportunity to meet and receive autographs from Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, glide across an outdoor ice surface in the middle of summer and receive lessons from the area’s finest instructors, all free of charge. After refining their skills on the ice, skating’s future stars will even be able to wear genuine U.S. Figure Skating medals as they pose for pictures atop the U.S. Figure Skating Championships podium.

While summer athletes will take the center stage in London, fans at the Olympic Downtown Celebration will be able to experience the thrill of winter sports through U.S. Figure Skating’s SkateFest, USA Hockey’s youth skills demonstration and USA Curling’s fan experience, where coaches will provide instruction for each sport. Sponsored by Ice Rink Engineering’s EZ Glide 350, the 30-by-60-foot synthetic ice surface will host a SkateFest from 4-6 p.m. Complimentary skates will be provided by Honnen Ice Arena, and skaters will receive instruction from the staff of Colorado College Skating School, the World Arena Ice Hall and 2011 U.S. junior champion Max Aaron.

Additionally, Yamaguchi will take part in an autograph signing with current members of Team USA who train in Colorado Springs.

The event, which is free to the public in its entirety, will not only feature the outdoor SkateFest, but a wildfire benefit concert featuring American Country Music Award winner Rodney Atkins and more. The festivities will coincide with NBC’s telecast of the Opening Ceremonies in London.

As fans make their way through the event, they will be entertained by acrobats, interactive sports activities, a BMX stunt team and a miniature kids’ tennis court provided by the U.S. Tennis Association.

In keeping with Olympic tradition, the event will also include a torch run, featuring several notable sports figures. The torch will begin its journey at the Olympic Training Center, make its way through the city and arrive at the Olympic Downtown Celebration, where the local cauldron will be lit at about 9:30 p.m.  A 27-foot-wide television screen will broadcast the cauldron lighting in London, while Yamaguchi and her husband, two-time Olympian and Stanley Cup winner Bret Hedican (USA Hockey), light a special cauldron in Colorado Springs. Local torch runners include 2012 U.S. pairs champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, and Dot Lischick, general manager of World Arena Ice Hall, which recently was named the official U.S. Olympic Training Site for figure skating.

Rich with Olympic history, Colorado Springs has been the hometown of the U.S. Olympic Committee since 1978 and is the city where Olympic and Paralympic dreams have begun for more than 350,000 athletes.

As the community gathers to honor that history, the devastation left by the recent Waldo Canyon wildfire sits heavily in the hearts of those who call the city home. In an effort to support those affected by the fire, radio stations Cat Country 95.1, in partnership with KCCY and business owners Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli, will host a free concert headlined by Atkins.  Andy Gibson will open the concert near 7 p.m. Atkins, a fan favorite with six No. 1 hits, will take the stage near the intersection of Kiowa and Tejon streets near  8 p.m. and encourage the listening audience to contribute to the “Battle The Blaze Fund,” created by the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and The Colorado Springs Sports Corp. All funds will go toward the wildfire relief effort.

In addition, the concert will feature a beer garden, with proceeds going to the wildfire relief fund. Participants will be encouraged to donate to the fund, which strives to support the many agencies and services involved in fighting the fire and its aftermath. Donations can also be made to the “Battle the Blaze Fund” now online.

Other attractions include:

  • Food and beverage vendors
  • Interactive sports activities with the U.S. National Guard
  • A children’s Gravity Play Area, complete with inflatable slides and portable climbing walls
  • Flying Aces All-Stars, acrobatic athletes performing spectacular trampoline tricks
  • An appearance by The Amazing Christopher from Los Angeles, a favorite from past State Games Opening Ceremonies
  • An appearance by Miss Colorado Hannah Porter
  • Remarks by Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach

The event is primarily funded by the Downtown Development Authority with support from the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation and AT&T. KOAA-TV, the city’s NBC affiliate and home of the Olympic Games broadcasts from London, will provide the broadcast feed and special promotion of the event.

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