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Heading to Vancouver

Between the Lines

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UPDATE: Revised at 10:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21

Whether you're left or right, Republican or Democrat, we agree on one point: No sporting event in the world matches the Olympics. And as important as the Games are to all Americans, they're especially meaningful to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, home to the U.S. Olympic Committee, Olympic Training Center and nearly two dozen member sports — not counting another 25 related organizations.

During every Winter and Summer Games, TV inundates the nation with the drama, medals ceremonies and storylines. But that doesn't address the need for local media to deliver the additional coverage that's so pertinent to this corner of the world.

So it came as a shock two months ago when we learned the Gazette, in one of many cost-cutting measures, would not send any staff members to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It would have been the first time since the USOC relocated to Colorado Springs more than three decades ago that our city's daily newspaper didn't have its own Olympic credentials.

We found out Thursday that the Gazette had changed its mind and would be sending its Olympics beat writer, Brian Gomez, to Vancouver. That's good news for the Gazette's readers, because from Lake Placid to Beijing, the daily paper has sent home stories from the Games. (The only exception was the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow, when the paper turned back its credential after the United States-led boycott.) It was always a given, no matter how tight the budget. I know, because often those contingents included me: Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in '88, Barcelona in '92, Atlanta in '96, Nagano in '98. Later, working for a different newspaper chain, I covered the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

So when the Gazette's management initially decided to pull the plug on Vancouver, I felt for local readers who wouldn't have the coverage they've been accustomed to for the past three decades. But it was also embarrassing that the USOC's hometown wouldn't have any media presence at the Olympics, other than the daily paper buying stories from freelancers.

Then came an idea: Why couldn't the Independent go? Even though we only publish once a week, surely we could figure out a way to make the most of it.

So now, instead of nothing, Colorado Springs will have that media presence at the Olympics, and for the first time, with two newspapers, the Independent as well as the Gazette. I'm honored to cover the Games once again, with the perspective of six previous Olympic experiences. Whether the events at any given moment have included local athletes or not, it has been challenging and rewarding to provide that focused coverage, knowing that so many people were paying attention.

We've already been brainstorming on how to make it work best. Obviously, we'll be urging our readers to go online, especially to our blog, where we'll make it easy to find everything. Our ongoing focus will be at csindy.com, and it won't be here today, gone tomorrow; if you miss a day or two, you can always go back and catch up. Then, each week, we'll provide other stories and columns in the Indy, moving away from events to other issues, people and angles.

In addition, we're expanding our partnership with KRDO, providing News Channel 13 and KRDO's AM-FM radio with live updates several times daily.

We're doing this for you, our readers, because we strongly believe that — despite the negativity around the city's deal to keep the USOC here for at least 25 more years — most locals still feel proud to have the Olympic presence. This city still celebrates every medal won by every American athlete, not just those hundreds who live and train here.

Sure, it'll cost some money to make this happen, though we're cutting some corners where possible (like flying to Seattle and taking a bus the rest of the way). For me, it means being away for three weeks, which creates a bigger workload for other people. But to us, this is worth it.

This part wasn't in the print version, which I wrote with the incorrect assumption that the Gazette wouldn't be going to Vancouver. Here, in revised form, I apologize to the Gazette and our readers for not checking to be sure and for unintentionally misleading anyone by writing that the Indy would be the only Colorado Springs media outlet at the Winter Games.

Our only goal is to give our readers and all of Colorado Springs what you so richly deserve: Olympic coverage, start to finish, personalized for this audience. And when those extraordinary moments come, as they always do, you'll know where to read about them.

routon@csindy.com

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