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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wisconsin lends a hand to Chicago's Olympic bid

The city of Chicago is pulling out the stops in its bid to get the 2016 Summer Olympics. Luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Rodham Clinton are assisting Mayor Richard Daley with the technical presentation to the International Olympic Committee.

But that doesn't support for the Chicago bid is stopping at the Illinois state line. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's among the supporters for the Chicago. Should Chicago get the bid, Madison, Wis., would be the host city for most of the cycling events.

"Frankly, they needed to find some hills," Doyle said on the NBC Chicago Web site. "It is my understanding from the people who designed this course, that it would be one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging course, in the history of the Olympics."

Chicago is known for lots of things -- everything from a world-class art museum to a major-league baseball team that hasn't won the World Series since 1908 -- but it's not known for its hills.

Yes, Illinois has some hilly areas, the northwestern corner of the state near Galena and deep Southern Illinois in Shawnee National Forest. Both areas, however, would be hard-pressed to be handle an Olympic competition and the huge crowds.

That's where Wisconsin fits in. Wisconsin definitely has the hills, and Madison is better equipped to handle large crowds than any other community in hilly sections of Wisconsin and Illinois.

In making his case for Wisconsin's ability to handle the cycling competition, Doyle cited Wisconsin's bike trails, high percentage of bicycle riders and the major bike manufacturers headquartered in the state, including Trek Bicycle Corp.

The Associated Press also reported that Doyle assured the IOC that the Madison area would be easily reachable from Chicago. He said a high-speed rail system that links Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and the Twin Cities should be operating by 2016.

According to AP, the road race would start in Madison and finish at Blue Mound State Park, about 25 miles west of the city. The mountain bike course would be at Tyrol Basin, a popular ski and snowboard destination near the city of Mount Horeb west of Madison. The time trials would be in Madison.

Track races would be conducted at a permanent velodrome to be constructed in Chicago's Douglas Park, while BMX racing would take place at a temporary venue at Douglas Park. Douglas Park is in the city's west side, bordered by Roosevelt Road, California Avenue, 19th Street and Albany Avenue. Ogden Avenue -- once part of historic Route 66 -- goes through the park.

By the way, St. Louis is part of Chicago's proposal, but not for cycling. Preliminary Olympic soccer matches would be held at the Edward Jones Dome if Chicago gets the bid.

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