For the last seven years, the U.S. Ski Team has traveled to Colorado in November to get early season training at the Copper Mountain Speed Center before the World Cup tour visits North America. This year, it’s no different. Steven Nyman, Bryce Bennett, Lindsey Vonn, Laurenne Ross and the rest of the speed team have all been on site.
Aside from the great snow conditions, they are all noticing one thing: only about half the track is open currently. According to USSA Alpine Director Patrick Riml, they are currently skiing about 45 seconds worth of gates–training super-G and downhill. Athletes take the lift to the top in the morning over grass and rocks. They find snow at the top, ski the course, and then take a snowmobile back to the start since the snow does not go all the way to the bottom.
Even though warm temps have prevented Copper Mountain from making snow to the chairlift that doesn’t mean they are not getting quality training.
“First of all, the track is great and is providing different terrain for different sets,” shared Riml. “The main thing right now is that this is the only place you can ski and not only skiing, but have quality training.”
That quality training is only possible because Copper Mountain prioritizes preparation of the Speed Center over almost everything else in the fall. The resort has been tirelessly working on snowmaking to open the rest of the Speed Center, and is on track to do so on Nov. 11 with the resort itself opening on Nov. 18–a week later than initially planned.
“This is our seventh year hosting the team at the Speed Center at Copper Mountain, so we have the drill down,” said Morgan Whitehouse, communications coordinator for Copper Mountain. “Every year, when we start snowmaking, we start on public facing trails and we start snowmaking on the Speed Center as well. It’s a focus for us from day one. It’s our priority really to get to the team on snow as early as possible.”
The U.S. Ski Team is not the only national team on site. The Attacking Vikings have made an appearance in Colorado as part of their cooperation with the Americans–essentially a reversal of summer training where the U.S. men flew to Norway to train.
Cover photo from Laurenne Ross’ Facebook page