State games provide summer economic boost

More than 7,000 athletes and their families are expected to descend on the Springs this summer for a two-weekend long sporting event that could provide an economic boost to the Springs.

In addition to bringing in fans to local hotels and restaurants, this year’s Rocky Mountain State Games will challenge fans to break a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering in the world wearing swimming caps.

Colorado amateur athletes of all ages and skill levels, including physically disabled, visually impaired and Paralympic athletes, from 24 Colorado cities and towns have registered to compete in this year’s games, held July 20-22 and July 27-29, in Colorado Springs.

Last year, the event was expected to bring in an estimated $9 million to Colorado Springs and the region as athletes, their families and fans booked hotel rooms and spent money at area attractions. In past years, the typical stay for an athlete coming in from out of town was three days, according to event organizers, the Colorado Springs Sports Corp.

The games are spread over two weekends, which is a new model for the event. In years past, the event was three to four days during a single weekend. This new model could bring in more money to local businesses, organizers have said.

This year, the games features 35 sports, including the newly added aquathlon, which is for children ages 7 to 15 years old and features 100 and 200 meter swimming events and 1k and 2k runs.

The games are recognized by the National Congress of State Games, a member organization of the United State Olympic Committee.

The games attract athletes of all calibers. For example, Theresa Kulikowski of Colorado Springs, a former NCAA gymnastics champion at the University of Utah and former U.S. National team member who was sixth in the 1996 Olympic Trials, will compete in the triathlon July 21 at Prospect Lake.

Athletes who have signed up to compete this summer range in age 8 to 71 years-old. Competition will take place along the Front Range with venues including the U.S. Olympic Training Center, U.S. Air Force Academy, Memorial Park, Fort Carson, Colorado College and other venues in Colorado Springs.

To kick it all off, the games will feature an Opening Celebration July 27, at America the Beautiful Park.  The event includes a Taekwondo exhibition and chances to break a few Guinness World Records, including the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering in the world wearing swimming caps. The record to break is 2,049 and swim caps will be handed out.

Registration for athletes and volunteers is open now at:  www.rockymountainstategames.org