Ahhh…. Colorado Springs…. my favorite WCHA destination.
The weather always seems to be outstanding (65 and sunny on my last two trips… which were in December and January). The scenery is wonderful with the mountains in the background and Pikes Peak towering above the rest of them. The area around the rink is loaded with places to eat and sleep. And the arena itself is solid.
My latest trip to the Springs didn’t disappoint. It was my seventh trip there and I haven’t had a bad experience yet.
Colorado Springs feels a bit like Fargo, but it is very sprawling. It actually covers more square miles than the city of Denver. To get from the Springs airport (south end) to the Air Force Academy (north end) takes almost 40 minutes. The backdrop of the city is beautiful. You have Cheyenne Mountain (home of NORAD) on the south end and Pike’s Peak on the north end.
Within walking distance of the arena, you have a Buffalo Wild Wings, an Outback, an Italian place and a Chili’s, which always tests how much chips and salsa I can dominate. I believe there are five hotels within walking distance, including a Hampton Inn that’s in the arena’s parking lot.
The atmosphere in the arena is a lot different than what you see in WCHA towns around here. The student section is only one row across two sections. There were no more than 40 students or so at the game. Like Denver, the crowd is generally older, so it’s not very rowdy in there. In Grand Forks, it’s extremely hard to spot someone not wearing any UND or Sioux apparel at games. CC fans don’t wear CC stuff as much.
In fact, I was standing in the lobby 25 minutes before the game with a friend and we decided to count how many people we could see wearing Sioux gear compared to CC gear at that moment. We counted twice as many with Sioux gear. There’s a large alumni base out in Colorado and they come out in droves to see UND. The young players who had never been to Springs were all Tweeting on Saturday night about how they couldn’t believe the loud ‘Let’s go Sioux’ chant as they left the ice. Wait til they go to Denver. The Sioux fans are even louder there.
THE PET PEEVE
The only pet peeve I have about the Springs, and many fans probably share this, is that they do not show replays of UND goals in World Arena or in the press box. If you want to go back and double check how someone got the puck, you are out of luck. I don’t understand the reason for doing this and I hope they change it come the NCHC era.
THINGS TO DO
There’s quite a bit to do in Colorado Springs, if you ever make the trip. I went to Garden of the Gods my first time in Springs with my cousin Trinity, who was a CC student at the time. It’s a great park, where you can walk around and check out some really crazy rock formations. People rock climb there, too. Nearby, you can take a train to the top of Pike’s Peak. I haven’t done that yet, but have heard good things and I really need to do that next time.
If you want to go out after the games, downtown is really hopping. Even moreso than Grand Forks. Some bars have started to get a little shady, though, as one was conducting pat-downs before allowing people in (better than the bar with the metal detector in East St. Louis that I went to at the ’07 Frozen Four, I suppose).
There are a lot of street vendors, but you have to look for the guy with a hot dog stand on the east side of Tejon Street between Pike’s Peak Avenue and Kiowa Street. It is the finest dining in the Springs. He has what used to be called the spicy cajun dog and is now called ‘hot link.’ I was frightened when I saw the menu and didn’t see the spicy cajun dog on it anymore, but the trip was saved when I found out it only changed names because of ownership. So, I ordered three and finished off the natural hat trick to show Springs newbie Tom Miller how it’s done.
Photo 1: Colorado Springs. Pike’s Peak is the one in the background on the right side. From this angle, it doesn’t look larger than the other peaks. From the airport, you can see how it towers over the others.
Photo 2: Here’s a picture from the World Arena area. There’s a cool pond area with ducks swimming around. You can see the rink in the background on the left (the white building).
Photo 3: A view of World Arena.
Photo 4: The student section. This picture was taken after the opening faceoff. You can see there are students in the first row and others just fill in behind because they know those seats will be open.
Photo 5: View of World Arena from the upper row of the press box. There are two rows in the press box. You can see the bottom row (where the stats people sit) in this photo.
Photo 5: This is the upper row of the press box, where the writers and opposing SID sit.
Photo 6: The spicy cajun dog. Or hot link. Whatever it’s called. It’s amazing.