On snow training off to an early start this year at Copper Mountain
VAIL — Some years, it’s November before local ski racers are able to start their on-snow training. The beginning of the 2017-18 season was not one of those years.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has been making regular trips up to Copper Mountain for more than two weeks now as cold temperatures have contributed to good snowmaking conditions.
Copper’s Excelerator chairlift is now open to ski racers in Colorado, transporting them up to several open lanes on the Copperopolis race course.
“Mother Nature has been cooperating, and we’ve been able to blow some snow up there,” said Taylor Prather, Copper Mountain’s public relations manager. “The sooner that we can get them on-snow training, the better for everyone.”
The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center is expected to open in the coming days on the east side of the mountain, and will host professionals for downhill and super-G training as the men’s team prepares for the Birds of Prey downhill, super-G and giant slalom races in Beaver Creek from Dec. 1 to 3.
‘QUALITY SKI TIME’
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coach Sylvan Kaufman has been heading up to Copper nearly every day with his group of 14 and 15 year old athletes. He said the snow has been perfect for his group.
“We’re doing a lot of technical and tactical work right now, so for our purposes it’s awesome,” he said. “We’re just getting mileage and working on skill development, and it has been great to be able to do that in October. I know some years we’re not so lucky.”
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s 12 and 13 year old age group — known as the U14s — have been making regular trips to Copper Mountain, as well.
“One of the cool things about the Copper training was, alongside the U14s on snow were members of SSCV’s men’s and women’s FIS programs, as well as members of the CU Buffalos’ Ski Team,” said Geoff Mintz, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail communications manager. “So the kids were not only getting quality ski time with their coaches, they were able to watch some really good skiing, as well, and learn a thing or two in the process.”
The local compliment to the downhill and super-G training at Copper Mountain is the giant slalom and slalom training offered in Vail at Golden Peak. Vail’s Golden Peak Race Arena is shooting for a mid-November opening, Mintz said, as snowmaking has been underway for several weeks there.
Copper Mountain is scheduled to open to the general public on Nov. 10 at 9 a.m., with Vail’s opening one week later on Nov. 17.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.