U.S. Ski Team carving up Copper Mountain | VailDaily.com

U.S. Ski Team carving up Copper Mountain

Bryce Evans
Copper Mountain CO, Colorado

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colorado ” Sure, this time of year, Summit County locals are often griping about the quality and, especially, the quantity of snow on the slopes.

But you wouldn’t have heard any complaints from the skiers occupying the lower section of Copper Mountain, Thursday morning, and these people might know a thing or two about the sport.

“This kind of snow is ideal,” men’s U.S. Ski Team assistant coach Ben Black said, gazing back up at the hard, compacted white sheet on Copper’s Main Vein. “It’s grippy, and you can get good feedback from it. … It’s super easy.”

While “easy” may be subjective, it’s probably an accurate description for the way Black’s team, as well as the U.S. women’s Alpine squad, carved down Copper during some Super G training runs.

Today, the U.S. Alpine Teams are just wrapping up their Colorado training camp in preparation for the upcoming season. Over the past three weeks, the U.S. skiers have been on the hill roughly six days per week at Copper and Loveland Ski Area, while crunching out some dryland training at the Breckenridge Recreation Center.

The final weeks of both teams’ “prep period,” as Black called it, has served different purposes depending on the athlete.

For Eagle county’s Kirsten Cooper, a second-year member of the women’s team, the training sessions have been a good way for her to focus on some racing


“I try to not think too much and think about a few things,” she said of her mindset going into a run. ” … I’m trying to be really balanced on my outside ski and not try to lean in too much.”

Like most of the downhillers, Cooper is preparing for some upcoming races.

Though most of the athletes have trained all summer, the past few weeks have

been pretty grueling for them: Early mornings and leg-burning workouts.

Men’s team member Andrew Weibrecht enjoys the teams’ time at Copper, because he said it helps to prepare for the early-season World Cup races at Lake Louise in Alberta, Can. and Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek.

But, Weibrecht described the training as “pretty brutal.”

“We get up at about 5:30 (a.m.) and get on the hill,” he said. ” … I usually go to a second session at Loveland and get a couple hours in over there, before having some dryland.”

Marco Sullivan, who trained a bit in Chile during the offseason, finished fourth overall last season in the downhill. He said that, through the training sessions, he has felt healthy and technically sound. So, instead of worrying about form or conditioning, Sullivan has used his time at Copper to try to gain some extra speed.

“Race pace is different than training pace,” said the former Olympian, who is gunning for the overall downhill title this winter. “So I’m just trying to ramp it up as much as I can.”

All in all, the U.S. Teams’ time in Copper has also allowed them to come together as a team, which is rare during the season.

“After this, they’ll all go to Europe or go to Canada and won’t see each other until after the season,” Black said.

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at bevans@summitdaily.com.

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