Pedal to the Metal

Copper Mountain Ready to Host the World’s Best For November Speed Training

A year ago, the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain opened after a couple of speed bumps. The delayed arrival of A-netting from overseas, as well as uncooperative weather, postponed the operation until Nov. 14, two weeks later than everyone had hoped. Snow in early October closed many of the access roads, which meant net towers had to be flown in by helicopter. Then, as the November target approached, the weather turned menacingly warm, which created a challenge for the snowmaking team.

Now, with ample time to prepare and better cooperation from Old Man Winter, the Speed Center has reached its full potential, offering elite-level athletes from the U.S. and around the world unprecedented downhill and super G training as of Nov. 1.

“Compared to last year, everything is ready to go,” says Martin Gray, Copper’s competition manager. “Last year, everything happened late, so we didn’t open until mid-November. It was a mad scramble at the end to get all the nets up. This year, we were able to work throughout the summer on the venue.”

The staff at Copper, along with the U.S. Ski Team, made several changes to the venue for this upcoming training block, such as improving the snowmaking system, eliminating a tree island near the finish, positioning additional A-nets, which allow for more flexibility and variety in course setting, and installing a permanent, state-of-the-art timing system.

“We’ve got a situation on that mountain, now, where we can time from top to bottom with different starts and intermediate times — everything we need,” says Gray. “We added some nets, which will allow the athletes to run a different line coming into Rosi’s Face. They can go straight over it, instead of going under the lift.”

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