USA Cycling and the United States Olympic Committee have teamed up to give track cyclists year-round, on-the-track training opportunities in Colorado Springs with the addition of a seasonal dome on the open-air 7-Eleven Velodrome located in Memorial Park. The dome will be put in place for the first time in early 2015.
"With the quickly approaching 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we are seeking every advantage to adequately prepare our athletes to compete with the best in the world," said USA Cycling CEO & President Steve Johnson. "However, this significant upgrade of the velodrome in Colorado Springs will not only provide the optimal setting for our track cyclists to live and train throughout the year in the run-up to Rio, but also represents a significant investment in American track cycling that will benefit our growing track community well into the future.”
Andy Sparks, USA Cycling Endurance Track Head Coach and USOC Paracyling Track Head Coach, suggested that the USOC and USA Cycling put a dome over the outdoor track to increase the number of training days at the 7-Eleven Velodrome. USA Cycling received Board of Directors approval, as did the USOC.
“We think this is a tipping point that can be a game changer for our national team programming,” said Jim Miller, USA Cycling Vice President of Athletics. “With the resources accessible at the USOC, we can now manage more robust training and opportunities for our athletes 365 days a year.”
"I believe this improvement will insure not only our sustained competitive success but also our improved success in terms of Olympic medals in 2016 and beyond," said Sparks.
Up until now, track cyclists living at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center were forced to seek alternative training sites during the winter months. The covered velodrome will allow them 12 months of uninterrupted training while utilizing the OTC's state-of-the-art athlete facilities.
The importance of the upgrade is not lost on athletes like Olympic silver medalist and seven-time world champion Sarah Hammer.
"I think the modernization of the velodrome is going to further kick start the efforts on the track program and will really show what Team USA is capable of moving forward," Hammer said. "I am super proud of the two medals we won on the track in London and I know that the new velodrome cover will enable us to have more training camps and more quality training days than in previous years. It will be a game changer for our U.S. Olympic and Paralympic programs as well as our local junior and military programs. I would like to thank all of the individuals who have made this project possible and a few individuals from USA Cycling in particular that had a major impact, such as Steve Johnson, Jim Miller and Foundation Development Director Steve McCauley."
The dome will be removed during the warmer summer months, but the shelter it provides during the winter will save an estimated $10,000 on annual repair work.
With year-round usage, the USOC will be able to add an additional 400 hours of community programs, on top of the 600 hours that are already offered. These will include the “Learn to Ride the Velodrome” program, community training and community races.
“We are excited to be adding a seasonal dome, which will allow our athletes to stay and train in Colorado Springs year-round where they will also have access to other important resources such as nutrition, strength training and sport performance services at the OTC," said Aron McGuire, director of the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. "This upgrade is a win-win, not only for our elite athletes but also for local riders and the greater Colorado Springs community.”
The 333.3 meter cement banked track was built in 1982 to provide high-altitude training for American cyclists leading up to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1986, the velodrome and Colorado Springs hosted the World Cycling Championships with huge crowds filling the stands each night during the weeklong event. Since then, the velodrome has played host to dozens of international competitions for both track cycling and roller sport.