Copper Mountain hosts technical training |

Copper Mountain hosts technical training

U.S. Ski Team member and two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety stares down his next gate during an early morning training session at Copper Mountain on Friday.
Townsend Bessent | |

Cheer on the U.S. Ski Team saturday

Kick off the 2014-15 ski season with the largest pep rally on snow at Copper Mountain Saturday. The US Ski Team will be celebrating its athlete’s victories in Sochi, Russia, and wishing lots of success to the U.S. Ski Team at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Vendor Village will open in Burning Stones Plaza at 9 a.m., and from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. there will be a poster making party for kids at Kokopelli’s Trail (craft materials provided). A parade from the Climbing Wall to Burning Stones Plaza will run from 3:45 to 4 p.m, and the First Tracks Naming Ceremony will be on stage in Burning Stones Plaza from 4 to 5 p.m. An athlete signing is scheduled for immediately after.

COPPER MOUNTAIN — Warm weather has altered the usual November routine for the U.S. Ski Team, but that doesn’t mean there’s no training to be had.

While it’s usually Copper Mountain hosting downhill and super-G racers, and Golden Peak in Vail hosting their technical-skiing counterparts, Copper Mountain began hosting slalom and giant slalom training this week, while Vail continues to prepare the slopes at Golden Peak.

Ordinarily, the plan is to have both training areas up and running a few days into November.

While Ski & Snowboard Club Vail was able to begin Nordic training Friday, current estimates are placing their alpine technical training facility at Golden Peak on a Nov. 17 opening date.

For some, the delays at Vail and Copper Mountain have been welcome news.

“I was kind of excited about it,” said Tommy Biesemeyer, who tore his ACL and MCL during his first race of the season at Lake Louise on Nov. 29. “With my injury, I’ve been battling with a little bit of tendinitis … so the fact that we delayed our trip another week, it sort of bought me some more time and I was psyched on it, obviously it’s not ideal for everyone else but for me specifically, I was like ‘I’ll take it.’”

Others aren’t as excited.

“The fact that we have the relationship here, and that we can come (to Copper Mountain) and train is great, but right now there’s just no snow,” Bode Miller said. “For me, I need some real training. We’re up at the very top, it’s pretty flat, really narrow, tons of kids packed in there, it’s hard to get something productive done … But if we can get something done in the next two to three weeks, that will be enough for me.”


All things considered, the nine days of training some athletes have had on the Copperopolis trail on the upper part of Copper Mountain has been productive.

“We’ve definitely made the most of it,” said U.S. B Team member Katie Ryan, who said she began training at Copper Mountain at the first available opportunity on Oct. 21. “We’ve had nine days of incredible tech training … we’ve had some sick runs and I’ve definitely made some huge improvements.”

Miller said while the lack of early season speed training has been a big disadvantage, it doesn’t mean things are setting up poorly for the season.

“Everyone’s in the same boat,” Miller said. “We’re fighting nature and we’re trying to get done what we’ve gotta get done, so I don’t think it will really be an issue for people. I think, obviously, if we had great conditions here that’s kind of nice for these early season races, but everyone will be fine.”

Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety said he wouldn’t mind having some time on Copper’s snow without the gates.

“It actually would be great freeskiing snow, it’s soft, chalky-ish,” he said.

Copper Mountain’s public runs officially opened for the season Friday after being delayed by a week.


Several athletes on the team are coming back from injury. For them, the excitement of getting back on snow is overwhelming any disappointment over the conditions.

On Thursday, Tommy Ford enjoyed what was only his second day of giant slalom training after breaking his femur in 2013.

“It felt really good just to be out early and see the sun rise,” Ford said. “We had been hearing reports from coaches about how much snow there is … but with the amount of people they’ve had here, and the limited snow, they’ve had great organization … it’s been quality snow and good terrain; it reminds me of when I was younger, skiing early season and seeing some trees poke through. It’s kind of fun.”

The most anticipated return to ski racing from injury has been Lindsey Vonn’s. After injuring herself at the World Championships in 2013, Vonn has been anxiously awaiting making a return to the venue that she has been so dominant over the years in Lake Louise, Canada.

“I’m really excited for Lake Louise,” Vonn said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been racing, and racing healthy at that.”

At this point, Vonn says she’s planning on making her return to World Cup racing with the first downhill race of the season, which is in Lake Louise on Dec. 5. But the unpredictable weather has also resulted in a deviation from what Vonn was expecting out of her training, so she says she’s also leaving the possibility open for an earlier return in a different event.

“Because there’s not a lot of snow in Colorado yet, I’ve been doing a lot of technical training, a lot of GS, and it’s definitely come along quite a bit faster than expected,” said Vonn, who won a World Cup giant slalom in January of 2013 before sustaining her injury 10 days later.

“I’m not leaving the door closed for Aspen (World Cup on Nov. 29) quite yet, I kind of like to leave everything open because you never know what’s going to happen,” Vonn said.

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