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Before the Games
By Becky Wenger, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Becky Wenger poses before the mini Olympic torch that sits atop the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The torch is lit only for very special occasions. It burned for visiting press in October 2005 during a media summit to promote the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, in February 2006.
Becky Wenger poses before the mini Olympic torch that sits atop the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The torch is lit only for very special occasions. It burned for visiting press in October 2005 during a media summit to promote the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, in February 2006.
(Photo: Suzanne Freeman )
In October 2005 I had the great experience of interviewing some of the athletes training for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Torino, Italy, in February. I was one of eight lucky students chosen from Challenger Middle School, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to attend a media summit at the U.S. Olympic Committee Training Center.

The media summit was held to give the press a chance to interview and get to know the athletes most likely to compete in Torino.

The USOC Training Center is an awesome place, located in Colorado Springs. While I was there, I also got to see where the athletes slept, where they ate, and where they work out. One of the coolest things I did while I was there was play Olympic-size chess on a giant-size chessboard. Each chess piece was as big as a third-or-fourth grader. They were really heavy but made out of plastic. They sat on a giant chessboard mat that measured about eight feet by eight feet.

Another cool thing I did was go on a tour of the dorm rooms. The rooms were undergoing renovation by the Hilton Hotel. When the athletes go to Italy, the Olympic committee staff is going to make the rooms in the Olympic Village there as homey as possible. They are going to bring the same sheets and pillows from the training center to Italy, so the athletes will feel more at home.

Another neat place was the dining hall. Other than the four days of the media summit, no one is allowed to eat there except the athletes. During the media summit, we were allowed to join the athletes for a healthy lunch.

Inside are ice cream machines, Asian food on a grill, cookies, and soda! You can eat as much food as you want, but remember, reporters and athletes have to watch their weight!

Next time you are in Colorado Springs, or if you live here now, definitely visit the training center and take a tour. Maybe you can meet one of the Olympic athletes, or play an awesome game of chess!


Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.