Let The Games Begin
Rocky Mountain State Games: A great chance for Colorado athletes to showcase skills
Athletes of all ages can compete in the Rocky Mountain State Games, with people from age 4 to 88 signing up through the years to test their mettle against other amateur athletes.
That competition is the Rocky Mountain State Games, a one-of-a-kind spectacle of sports featuring top amateur athletes squaring off in nearly 40 events at locations across town. Whether it’s softball, basketball, taekwondo, swimming or even Ultimate Frisbee, archery and skateboarding, no one is left out at the State Games.
“The Rocky Mountain State Games is an event for everybody,” says Mike Moran, senior media consultant for the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, which has conducted the event the last 13 years.
“It’s really part of the Sports Corp’s mission to provide opportunities like this for everybody to participate in something, and it’s turned out to be exactly that. This is a very popular event with a lot of people. We see repeat athletes who come back every year to compete. It’s a unique event that’s become part of the regular stable of sporting events here in the Springs.”
Not only is there a variety of sports, events and competitions, the array of amateur athletes who sign up to participate is widely varied as well.
“This is an event where competitors can be as young as 4 years old, and I think the oldest athlete we ever had was 88 years old,” Moran says. “It runs the gamut from weekend athletes, someone who just loves fitness and a little competition, to Olympic hopefuls and even Olympic athletes. We’ve had people who compete collegiately too, so there’s really a mixture of individuals that make up these state games.”
This year’s Games are slated for back-to-back weekends, July 19-21 and 26-28, and will be held at venues throughout the city. More than 7,000 athletes from more than 120 Colorado cities and towns are expected to participate in 36 events, including eight new additions for 2013.
The additions are: Arm Wrestling, Disc Golf, Dog Agility, Orienteering, Pickleball, Shooting, Skateboarding and Ultimate Frisbee. Some may scratch their heads at just what a few of those events might entail.
The Dog Agility event features specially trained K-9s running through obstacle courses under the direction of their owners, giving dog lovers a chance to show off their prized pooches. Pickleball has many similarities to tennis, as it is played on a badminton court with a net in the middle, a perforated plastic baseball and wood or composite paddles.
Orienteering is a family of sports featuring maps and compasses where competitors navigate their way through unfamiliar terrain at top speed from one point to another. It was originally a land navigation training exercise for military officers, but has evolved into a sport with numerous variations.
The athletes who participate in the State Games are able to test their skills and mettle against others who share their passion for competition and athletic activity, while also enjoying camaraderie and the chance to win medals. Former Air Academy High School diver Luke Hansen earned silver medals in the State Games the past two years and relished the competition.
“It was a lot of fun and harder than most of the other competitions I’ve done, because you’ve got some out-of-state divers too,” he says. “It’s a good event to do over the summer to stay sharp. There are a lot of athletes, so you definitely get a good skill range to go against.”
Athletes who medaled in the Rocky Mountain State Games in 2011 and 2012 are eligible for the 2013 State Games of America, a national event Colorado Springs hosted in 2005, 2007 and 2009. This year’s State Games of America will be held July 31-Aug. 4 in Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa.
One of the flagship events of this year’s Rocky Mountain State Games is the Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb, a competition set for July 21 that will feature both casual and competitive rides over the same course used for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Presented by The Broadmoor and the Anschutz Foundation, the Cycling Hill Climb will be a top-notch battle for elite cyclists from across the country.
“We’re really excited about it,” Moran says. “We can have athletes from other states come to the Rocky Mountain State Games if their State Games don’t have a particular event. So, for the Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb, we’re looking at cyclists from 38 states and as many as 500 to 600 athletes.”
Regardless which event an athlete participates in, they are likely to have a blast competing at high altitude in one of the state’s most dynamic and appealing cities.
“It does put Colorado Springs on the state map, and that’s one of the side effects we think is quite special,” Moran says. “It touches almost every part of Colorado Springs, when you get right down to it. Our slogan for the Games is ‘Come on out and play.’
“It seems to have found its place, with a little something for everyone.
Go online to www.coloradospringssports.org and click on Rocky Mountain State Games. Competitors may register for some events as late as the day of competition.