2011 Forecast: USOC promises higher profile in new year

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The biggest change coming in the local sports scene next year involves one of the biggest sports organizations in the world:

The U.S. Olympic Committee is preparing for a series of events that will boost its profile in the Springs, as well as globally.

“We have a nice list of premier events on tap,” said USOC spokesman Mark Jones. “Some of them are high-profile, will be covered nationally and internationally, and will hopefully help to get people into hotels and restaurants here.”

The USOC, in partnership with the Department of Defense, will host the second annual Warrior Games in May. More than 200 injured service members from the four service branches, most of them active duty, will take part in 20 different paralympic sporting events.

NBC Nightly News came to Colorado Springs earlier this year to cover the inaugural event.

“They use our training center and facilities, and even facilities at the Air Force Academy,” Jones said. “It’s an incredibly inspirational event, but also a great opportunity to highlight paralympic sports.”

In September, the Olympic Assembly will come back to Colorado Springs for the second time. The conference on the Olympic movement in the U.S. has been around since the early 2000s, although 2010 was the first time the event was held in the Springs.

The conference brings together the National Governing Bodies, advisory councils, sports organizations, and commissions from around the country. The assembly ends with a USOC board meeting, and Jones calls it “our most important and largest event of the year.”

But the USOC’s crown jewel for 2011 is the fifth-ever International Olympic Committee Athlete’s Forum. The forum is held every two years, and previous host cities include Marrakesh, Morocco; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Lausanne, Switzerland.

The forum brings together athletes and IOC commissions from around the world, and Jones said that it’s significant that the IOC chose not just the U.S. to host the forum, but Colorado Springs in particular.

“Some of these we’ve done in the past, some we’re just starting to bring to town,” Jones said. “All of them are a part of the USOC’s initiative to play a role in economic development for this community.”