Olympic champions Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah and Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley, Ca. were among many national team 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 at Park City April 30.
The national training and education center opened its doors to athletes last week in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, just over nine months away. Although The Center of Excellence is officially open, a public opening won't be held until July.
The Center is the USSA's home for athletes and employees alike, according to the May 1 press release from the USSA in Park City.
It features state of the art facilities throughout the building, including a large athletic training area, aerials and snowboard ramps and tramps area, gymnasium, sports medicine recovery and rehabilitation room, nutrition center, equipment and sport science lab.
Mancuso was among the first athletes to train. She 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 of Boise and Megan McJames of Park City. Both were 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.
According to Sun Valley native 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."
Friday brought more athletic life to the Center with the likes of freestyle aerialists Emily Cook of Belmont, Mass. and Dylan Ferguson Ridgway, Colo. along with alpiners Lindsey Vonn of Vail, Colo. and Kaylin Richardson of Edina, Minn.
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 the Center will motivate people to be better athletes.
Richardson said, "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."
She added, "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."