Park City training and rehab center is a boon to top-level athletes

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To simply call the new Center of Excellence state of the art does not do it justice.

The new training and rehab center of the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Association, situated just east of Park City, is an 85,000-square foot, cutting-edge facility that features everything an elite athlete could ask for or need to compete at the highest level.

For 2006 gold medalist Ted Ligety, having the Center of Excellence just a stone's throw away from his Park City pad is a building block in his quest to repeat in 2010 in Vancouver.

Ligety partially tore two ligaments in his right knee during a training run at the U.S. Alpine Championships in March. Since then it has been constant rehab sprinkled in with rest, and restlessness from being confined away from the mountain.

"I'm not going to lie, it's been tough for me to stay off my knee, because I want to be out there training and getting better." Said Ligety, "But my main focus is Vancouver 2010, I want to be 100 percent for it, so if I have to stay off and rehab it, so be it."

Good thing he's got the Center of Excellence to help with his recovery.

The Center of Excellence has one of the top sports medicine programs in the country, and the facilities to match. It features a hydrotherapy pool, whirlpools, hot and cold plunge pools and steam and sauna rooms, all overlooked by sports medicine director Richard Quincy.

"We can now get our athletes who have injuries as serious as torn ACLs back into rehab as soon as 72 hours after surgery with our hydrotherapy pool." Said Quincy, "This is a tremendous advantage for our team as we are able to get our athletes back out competing and training as soon as possible."

To go along with the superb rehab facility, there is also a sport science lab on the premises. This is an area where athletics and science merge into one, with high tech machines measuring and recording physiological analysis of the athletes.

For example, the scientists have the ability to simulate an exhaustive workout on an athlete, and halfway through it, measure everything from lung capacity to heart rate, to how much fluid they are losing.

For the skiers and boarders that are not rehabbing injuries there is a phalanx of workout platforms and cardio machines to help them stay in peak condition.

Besides the traditional exercise options, there is also the ramps and trams area. Described as the hub of fast-paced action at the Center of Excellence, the ramps and tramps moniker stays true to its name, featuring a skate park-like course, in which snowboarders can simulate their runs at any time of the year on a skateboard, and a trampoline area that lets aerial skiers work on their form and balance.

In addition, the center also boasts a nutrition center which teaches the athletes how to cook and what to eat, and what to stay away from. For top Alpine skier Steve Nyman, this has been a great benefit.

Said the Provo-born Nyman, "The trainers here constantly preach to us about the importance of eating well, and eating at the right times. Having your body respond and recover quicker is important for us, because of the way skiing is set up."

The center is a headquarters for the Olympic sports organization and an educational resource for athletes, coaches, judges and officials and parents. It is part of a longterm vision developed by the USSA more than a decade ago, adding to the legacy of athlete training facilities spawned by the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Ligety credits the center with helping his comeback from the knee injury. He will be on skis for the first time next month in New Zealand. Because of the injury, he will take his time, and let the mountain come to him.

"I'm going to have to take it slowly, which is going to be a challenge because I always like to push myself," Ligety said. "Having the Center here at home has definitely helped my rehab out so far, and I'm excited for what the future holds for the place."

Center for Excellence

» The U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Association just opened an 85,000-square foot training and rehab center in Park City.

» The facility is being billed as one of the top training and rehab centers in the nation.

» Utah-born skiers Ted Ligety and Steve Nyman are already taking advantage of the workout and rehab center.