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Team USA in Our Community: Tour the OTC with an Olympian and Paralympian

Posted at 7:36 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 15:02:45-04

Welcome into 1 Olympic Plaza, the home of the United States Olympic Committee and the center of the American Olympic Universe.

2-time Paralympic medalist and resident athlete Sophia Herzog is a tour guide when she isn’t training in the pool ten times a week.

“This is where all of our athletes live and eat,” Herzog said. “We have 500 beds in there right now and we’re sitting about 100 permanent year-round athletes, fills up more as we get closer to Tokyo 2020.”

Several facilities make up the training center, including Aquatics Center, Olympic Shooting Center, Sports Center 1 and 2, Olympic Fencing and Pentathlon Center and the Velodrome. Additional, Team USA athletes have access to the Athlete Center, which provides a full service dining facility, dormitories and mail center. More than 100k Team USA fans visit the OTC each year—with tours running daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.—to get an inside look at how these athletes live and train.

The Breckenridge native has been here since 2014. She medaled at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio and is a two time world champion. It was always her goal to live and train in the Springs.

“I graduated high school a year early at 17 with a high school diploma,” Herzog said. “They took a really big gamble and a chance and I trained for that year and a half. I wanted to go for another four and now I’m at getting ready for Tokyo 2020.”

Karen Chen is Herzog’s roommate at the OTC.

The southern California native has been a resident athlete for the last six months and has taken full advantage of the facilities and services offered to Olympians.

The 2017 figure skating national champion discovered a stress fracture in her right foot in August but thanks to the medical staff on site, she’s been able to recover faster and get back on the ice.

“I try to make an appointment with a physical therapist three times a week,” Chen said. “I find it really helpful,  even if it’s just to maintain my ankle or my hips and things like that.

Being around all these incredible athletes, just being here I feel very inspired all the time which is very encouraging.”

These are just two athletes and two pieces of a big part of the Olympic Training Center and an inside look at what drives Team USA in our community.