In Olympic Footsteps: A North American Tour - Page 2

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Atlanta, Georgia
Get rid of those explosive memories of our most recent American Olympics with a splash in the lighted, musical, sky-high Fountain of Rings, right in the middle of Centennial Olympic Park. Once a dilapidated area of the city, Olympic Park today comprises 21 acres of public space, with enough grass to cover Turner Field three times. It's the largest city park created in the United States in two decades, constructed for the 1996 Summer Games but intended for Atlantans' use after that. The city has poured its energies into making it one hot cultural and recreational site. Major festivals, arts and children's programs, and concerts take place here. A bit of trivia: granite from five continents—representing those competing in the Atlanta Games—was used to build the park. The Atlanta Braves play at Turner Field, the former Olympic Stadium (tours are available on non-game days). The Georgia Dome, site of Olympic gymnastics and basketball, is home to NFL's Atlanta Falcons. The Dome will host the NCAA Men's Final Four in 2002 and 2007.

Mexico City, Mexico
You can avoid the pickpockets in Mexico City, but not the long gaze of the ancients. The site of the Olympic Village for the Summer '68 games rests right on top of an archaeological site. You see, native Mexicans were building a pyramid and temple on what was to be the future Olympic venue. But Xitle Volcano had other plans, and erupted around 200 AD, halting construction. The village is flanked on one side by a circular temple around the Cuicuilco pyramid; it's the oldest building of such large scale in central Mexico. The pyramid is a striking five stories (17 meters) high, with a museum nearby with displays of artifacts found at the Olympic Village site. Today Mexico City's 100,000-seat Estadio Olimpico looks like a floppy sombrero sunken into the ground. But an up-close encounter with this 1968 relic shouldn't be missed. The mosaic relief by Diego Rivera, a dramatic storytelling of the development of human potential through sport in tile, is an artistic tour de force.

Lake Placid, New York
One of the few cities of the world to hold not one but two Olympic Games, Lake Placid cherishes—even revels a bit much in—its Olympic fame. But Upstate New York wouldn't be the same without this amazing spot, which hosted both the 1932 and 1980 events. The Olympic Jumping Complex, the Olympic Arena and Convention Center, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, and the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg combine to make a visit to Lake Placid a walk down Olympic memory lane. Chairlifts take the extremely daring for heart-thumping ski-jump try 90 meters up the mountain. Onlookers go even higher, in a glass elevator sporting views of the top of the jump and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. Bobsled and luge runs are open seasonally (speed thrills are not just for Jamaican teams); Mt. Van Hoevenberg's center offers cross-country skiing as well as off-season hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

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