The athletes' village, which consists of 20 dormitories and 180
other buildings at the University of Utah, serves as more than
living quarters for 3,500 competitors and officials from the 77
nations represented at the Games. It is also a place to mingle,
to work on language skills and, when the game rooms aren't
crowded, to blow off steam. "The Games really begin for me when I
come to the village," says Mark Grimmette, a U.S. luger competing
in his third Olympics. "Seeing all those different jackets from
all the countries in the village, that's when it sets in that I'm
an Olympian again."
From the outside the village has the look of a fortress, with
checkpoints manned by armed national guardsmen. Once inside,
athletes can find more than just a place to crash. There is a
hair salon, bank, Internet cafe, flower shop, photo shop, post
office, fitness center, massage center and convenience store.
The coffeehouse staff includes a professional palm reader who
predicts everything except an athlete's results. The on-site
Olympic Museum has more than 300,000 photos. The popular Village
Club has a lineup of visiting musicians that includes folk
singer Pete Seeger and a group called the A Cappella Bobsled
The religious center, which features a prayer room, counseling
room and religious-studies text room, offers regular services
for Buddhists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Protestants. The
main dining hall, which can seat as many as 650 people, is open
24 hours a day and sports fare from a dozen cuisines. From there
the well-fueled athletes can ply their skills at the village's
air-hockey boards, billiards tables and putting greens, where
even the world's greatest superstars become kids at play again.
February 13, 2002
"The Games really begin for me when I come to the village,"
says American luger Mark Grimmette.