Copper to open speed training center for Alpine skiers

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— The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and Copper Mountain Resort announced Wednesday a partnership to create the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center.

The exclusive early season, on-snow alpine ski racing venue will be designed to provide full-length downhill training by early November each season, beginning this fall.

The annual project will be managed by the U.S. Ski Team and Copper Mountain from Nov. 1 through Dec. 10 each winter. The infrastructure development involves a new automated snowmaking system and all the safety, communications and timing equipment necessary to create the only full-length downhill training available worldwide during this time of year.

The Speed Center will be open to World Cup athletes but also will serve as a facility for USSA clubs and regional programs.

“The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper will be a game changer for U.S. athletes,” USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt said in a news release. “It will provide unparalleled training for our elite athletes prior to the World Cup season and play an integral role in our strategic development plan for the next generation.”

Located in the Super Bee area, the steep, north-facing slopes, high base elevation and low early season temperatures will provide a continuation from summer training in Chile and New Zealand.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how the thing is organized and what access everybody has to it,” said Rick DeVos, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s executive director. “It’s a new enough idea we are waiting to hear details. But we’re excited to see what happens.”

DeVos said he envisions the Sports Club’s Alpine team taking advantage of the Copper terrain. The team, however, also does early morning speed training at Steamboat Ski Area.

“The Alpine team goes up there and is able to do legitimate speed training on Mount Werner,” DeVos said. “They did a great job of utilizing that this year.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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