Springs to properly celebrate Olympic Games



Bret Hedican and Kristi Yamaguchi with daughters Emma and Keara. The family will attend the Springs festival.
  • Claire Deliman
  • Bret Hedican and Kristi Yamaguchi with daughters Emma and Keara. The family will attend the Springs' festival.

Colorado Springs is a true Olympic city.

Home to the USOC. Home to the Olympic Training Center. Home to myriad national governing bodies for amateur sports. Hike our trails, and you just might get passed by a future superstar of the world stage (you'll probably also get passed by some obscenely-fit senior citizen, but that's another matter entirely).

Yes, indeed, we have credentials. And if you remember, we paid for those credentials — $32.48 million plus interest in an economic development deal.

What we didn't have, at least until recently, was an inkling of PR sense. Aside from the occasional stamp on city stationary and that much-maligned rooftop mural near Colorado Avenue and I-25, the city hasn't done much to toot its own horn about amateur sports.

That could be changing. This year, the city is throwing a party for the opening of the Olympic Games in London. And we've even got some big stars in attendance, like Olympians Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating) and Bret Hedican (hockey).

Read on to learn more:

Olympic Downtown Celebration to be held July 27
Fireworks and a special torch lighting to cap off free community party

As American athletes get ready to represent our country in London, Colorado Springs citizens here in “Little London” will don red, white and blue in support of Team USA at the Olympic Downtown Celebration from 4-10 p.m., Friday, July 27. The free event will coincide with NBC’s broadcast of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London, which will be shown on a 15- by 27-feet high-definition video screen at the intersection of Colorado and Tejon, right in front of the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters building. Event details will be shared with attendees at today’s Olympic Family Luncheon, sponsored by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation.

“The Downtown Olympic Celebration will be a great way to celebrate together as a community how very fortunate we are to be home to the United States Olympic Committee, U.S. Paralympics and 22 Olympic national governing bodies,” said Mayor Bach. “Many of the athletes competing in London will have trained here at some point in their careers and we look forward to cheering them on as they compete at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

While the Opening Ceremony broadcast is tentatively slated to start at 6 p.m. Mountain Time (NBC will announce official start time later this summer), the party will kick off a full two hours earlier at 4 p.m. with a variety of family-friendly entertainment that will continue throughout the night. All events are free, and will include:

• Two entertainment stages, featuring music, performances and interviews with local celebrities, including Olympians and Paralympians from past Games
• Autograph sessions with Olympians and Paralympians
• Maximum Velocity, a high-flying BMX performance stunt team
• Flying Aces All-Stars, Olympic and world champions acrobatic athletes performing some of the coolest trampoline tricks around
• Synthetic “Ice” Rink in July, featuring interactive events and complimentary skate use from U.S. Figure Skating, USA Hockey and USA Curling – all in the middle of the street!
• Miniature tennis court for kids’ play with U.S. Tennis Association
• Children’s Gravity Play Area, complete with inflatable slides, portable climbing walls and more (at no charge!)
• Interactive sport activities with the U.S. National Guard.

The evening will be capped off with a very special Colorado Springs torch lighting that coincides with the lighting of the official Olympic torch in London.

Olympians Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating) and Bret Hedican (hockey), who met at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville and married in 2000, will represent U.S. athletes as they light the local torch. Yamaguchi is the 1992 Olympic ladies figure skating champion, a best-selling author, philanthropist and a winner of the popular Dancing with the Stars television show. Hedican won the 2006 Stanley Cup with the NHL Carolina Hurricanes and is a TV sports analyst covering the NHL San Jose Sharks. They have two daughters, Keara Kiyomi, 8, and Emma Yoshiko, 6.

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