Fastest in US find snow at Copper Mountain | VailDaily.com

Fastest in US find snow at Copper Mountain

Taylor Seaton
Special to the Daily

COPPER MOUNTAIN — The weather has been warmer than wanted, but the U.S. Alpine Ski Team racers have been training at Copper Mountain with no complaints. In fact, they're thrilled to be on the only legitimate training surface there is right now.

"They were able to make a lot of snow and so we were able to do like a 55 second downhill, which is pretty fun," said downhiller Travis Ganong. "And it's probably the only place in the world to do that right now, so for what it is it's pretty sweet, and we're pretty lucky."

Cold temperatures are expected for Thursday with the forecast calling for natural snow to aid the track at Copper. Ganong, who locals know from his silver-medal finish in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships downhill in Beaver Creek, said he could feel the storm coming in on Wednesday.

"Today the jumps were massive, the storm's blowing in right now so we had a big tailwind," Ganong said. "So the jumps we were going like 45 meters, 50 meters."

LAKE LOUISE CANCELED

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Ganong learned on Wednesday morning that the International Ski Federation had canceled his and the rest of the speed team's first World Cup of the season in Lake Louise, Alberta, which was scheduled for Nov. 26-27.

"Plans are changing but hopefully it gets cold here and winter arrives soon and things can start moving forward," Ganong said.

The man-made snow at Copper was impressive, especially when compared to the brown terrain surrounding it. It was obvious that the U.S. Team was having fun, with smiles on their faces as they skated out of the start gate onto the grippy surface. The true pitch on the Copper track comes in after a short gliding section, and that's when everyone really starts to have fun. Ganong said he likes getting the adrenaline up in the early season, and on Wednesday it was obvious that he was having fun soaring over the jumps on the track. Ganong said he also favors grippier snow surfaces, like the man-made snow at Copper, which is similar to the surface he performed so well on at the World Championships last year. Atomic ski technician Lukas Rottinger with the U.S. men's alpine team said he hasn't had any issues with skis getting nicked up from anything on the ground that has penetrated the surface on the Copper track.

SHIFFRIN BACK HOME

While it's safe to say the U.S. Team is enjoying being able to train at home, they have also been watching what's going on with their competitors in Europe. Ganong is also a big powder skier who has been in Warren Miller movies, and seemed a little jealous of the snow they have been getting at the European ski resorts.

"This year, Europe is off to an amazing start, they have tons of snow over there," said Ganong.

But still, nothing can beat being at home for the American team. Especially when your home is so near by, tech skier Mikaela Shiffrin, of Eagle-Vail, said on Wednesday.

"It's so nice, it's so different than training on the other side of the world," said Shiffrin, who won the World Cup slalom opener in Levi, Finland, last weekend. "But I've only been here for one night."

The U.S. Team will continue to train at Copper Mountain for the next couple of weeks.