Inside Memorial Park’s futuristic marshmallow might be the fastest cycling track in the world. The air-filled velodrome cover, a collaboration between USA Cycling donors and the U.S. Olympic Committee, was christened by Olympic brass and Mayor John Suthers Dec. 7.
Derek Bouchard-Hall, CEO of USA Cycling and Olympian in the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, qualified for those games at the velodrome.
“I spent hundreds of hours on this track,” Bouchard-Hall said. “It’s amazing the drama that plays out in something like this. That’s why we build these facilities and that’s why we participate in sport; because of the incredible human drama that happens in a place like this.”
Bouchard-Hall said the facility can be used during inclement weather and, because of the thin air, it may be a record-breaker.
“It’s possibly the fastest track in the world. … Arguably, if you’re going to set the fastest time on a track, you might come to this facility. … I think you will see people coming here to set world records.”
Bouchard-Hall said the cover will mean more community participation at the velodrome as well.
Prior to the cover, including community programs, the velodrome was used about 600 hours a year. With the cover in place, 400 additional hours will be available.
Bouchard-Hall also thanked Colorado Springs for being “one of the most significant, if not the most significant, sports city in America.”
Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC, said when he was first presented with the cover idea years ago, “it didn’t resonate.” He said, however, the USOC narrowed its mission in 2004 and the primary goal was to help athletes win medals. The increased training capabilities, he said, would have a significant impact.
Suthers said the track “is yet another state-of-the-art” sports facility for our region,” which includes 24 national governing bodies, the Manitou Incline, the future U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum and more.