The following is part of KRCC's 'Peak Past' essay series.
William Jackson Palmer and Pierre de Coubertin would have gotten along like two hogs in the cool mud on a hot day.
Both were visionaries, both walked the earth at the same time, and both left us a legacy we can still appreciate here in the Pikes Peak region.
Coubertin is the “father” of the modern Olympic movement, which gave us in Colorado Springs the opportunity to add our most cherished nickname, “Olympic City USA.”
Visitors who spend time at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum (USOPM) are likely blown away by what a titan the 5-foot-3-inch Coubertin was. His personal motto declared to the world, “see farther, speak frankly, act firmly” — and that he did.
The evidence is right in front of us.
The home of the U.S. Olympic movement is here in Colorado Springs, a home base for the more than 12,000 athletes that have ever worn the U.S. uniform. According to the USOPM, 191 of them have been Coloradans, and so many more have trained here.
There’s the support team too. At the museum, you’re treated to a wall-spanning, life-sized image of the training staff, including coaches, docs and dieticians, and even a “team mom” for the onsite dorm, who looks like she’s trained her entire life for that role.
Pinned on the nearby wall map is the Manitou Incline, which has become a rite of passage for athletes like Apolo Ohno, the women’s gold medal-winning hockey team, and some of America’s most determined, like Paralympic skier Tyler Walker, who climbed it on his hands, as he put it, “just because it’s there.”
Palmer passed in 1909, and Coubertin died in 1937.
Palmer built us a city. Coubertin then came along and inspired our Olympic City’s soul.
Until our next mountainside chat—be good, be well, and no matter what, climb on.
Visit the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Closed to general admission
Thursday: Noon to 7 p.m.
Friday: Noon to 7 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Adult (13+) : $24.95
Child (3-12): $14.95
Child (under 3): Free
Senior (65+): $19.95
Military (With ID): $19.95
First Responders (With ID): $19.95
Peak Past (formerly Peak Perspectives) is a weekly segment written and voiced by Matt Cavanaugh, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a resident of Manitou Springs where he lives with his wife and two young children. Through his writing, Cavanuagh explores life in the Pikes Peak region, including the gradients and subtleties of our lives in the shadow of America's Mountain.
You can find more work by Cavanaugh here.
KRCC's Abigail Beckman manages the "Peak Past" series. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of KRCC or Colorado Public Radio.
Peak Past is sponsored by Pueblo Recycle Works. The United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum is an underwriter of KRCC.
Southern Colorado is changing a lot these days. We can help you keep up. Sign up for the KRCC Weekly Digest here and get the stories that matter to Southern Colorado, delivered straight to your inbox.