Olympic fever seems to be ubiquitous, with citizens across the country glued to the TV every night, sometimes every day. But what will we do with all our free time after the closing ceremonies this weekend? One option: try an Olympic sport.
There are plenty of local resources for those wanting to channel their inner Olympian. In addition to the obvious facilities, such as the AC Nielsen Tennis Center in Winnetka and the 50-meter pool at the Centennial Aquatic Center in Wilmette, there are also ways for local residents to participate in some of the more obscure Olympic sports.
Many area residents are surprised to hear that there is a velodrome right here on the North Shore, one of only 27 outdoor bicycle tracks in the United States. The Ed Rudolph Velodrome is part of the Northbrook Park District and is located just off Waukegan Road. It's not banked quite as steeply as an Olympic velodrome, but if you'd like to try track cycling, it's a great facility. There are clinics for new riders, as well as races for those ready to compete. The Thursday evening races are fun to watch, and since spectators only have to pay $2, it's a lot more affordable than trying to get to London.
Like many people, I didn't realize trampolining was an Olympic sport until I saw athletes on television flying high into the air. But those high jumps and twists are not something to be attempted on your average back yard trampoline. Instead, head to Xtreme Trampoline in Buffalo Grove and jump until your heart's content.
There are several places nearby to try boxing, including three in Highland Park: Highland Park Boxing, The Warehouse, and 2Fit (associated with 2Hot Yoga). Group and individual sessions are available to accommodate all experience levels, including beginners.
Even ping pong is exciting when elevated to the Olympic level. If you're inspired to master your game, chances are good that there's a table in a basement near you.
Fencing got a boost in media coverage after fencer Mariel Zagunis was selected to carry the US flag during the opening ceremonies. Zagunis lost her bid to win a third Olympic gold, but she still helped give the sport some recognition. For those looking to check it out, Metro Chicago Fencing in Northbrook offers beginner classes for adults.
The Skokie lagoons don't offer a lot of white water options, but if you don't mind a more sedate experience, you can rent kayaks from Chicago River Canoe and Kayak.
Head over to TL Fritts or Sports Authority and pick up a set. You can stage an Olympic scandal right in your own back yard.
For 2016, windsurfing is getting dropped as an Olympic sport, but kitesurfing is getting added. Take advantage of that lovely body of water just to our east and give this new Olympic sport a try at Chicago Kitesurfing. You've got four years to train, so maybe Olympic glory can be yours.