The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center is on track for an October 31 open of the world-class downhill training facility (USSA/Tom Kelly)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Oct. 25) – The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain is on track to open on Oct. 31, nearly two weeks earlier than it did during its inaugural year of operation last season. The benefits of which are wide-reaching as U.S. Ski Team athletes will be able to utilize Audi FIS Alpine World Cup level snow conditions and terrain well in advance of the North American races in Lake Louise, Aspen and Beaver Creek. Last winter U.S. athletes, including Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) and Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) combined for seven Audi FIS Alpine World Cup wins, four podiums and 10 other top 10 finishes all before mid December. The women's speed team went on to win the nations standings for downhill by a massive 636 points over Austria anchored by a fifth straight downhill title by Vonn.
The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain is planning to open on Oct. 31, nearly two weeks earlier than last season.
Copper Mountain operations worked round-the-clock since snowmaking began on Oct. 2 to ensure the venue would be ready for training as early as possible.
The world-class training facility was meticulously shaped to mimic all aspects of World Cup races venues across the globe.
Following the first season of training on the venue, the team produced seven Audi FIS Alpine World Cup wins, four other podiums and 10 additional top 10 finishes all before mid Dec. last season.
Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) would go on to win her fifth straight downhill title, fourth consecutive super G crown and the women's downhill team would lead the nation's standings for downhill by 636 points over Austria with Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CO) finishing second in super G and fifth in downhill.
Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) also benefited from training on the new facility by winning the Audi Birds of Prey downhill in early Dec., while Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was first and second in two World Cup giant slalom races at Beaver Creek.
Not only is it home to the U.S. Ski Team, but U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) club programs have the ability to utilize the venue until it reopens for public skiing in mid Dec.
The venue features 87 HKD automatic snowmakers, two miles of World Cup Supply A-net with steel structures, five miles of World Cup Supply B-net and fencing set on 4,500 Reliable Racing netting poles.
The North American World Cup swing opens Thanksgiving weekend with men's speed races in Lake Louise and the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational women's technical races in Aspen, CO. The following weekend sends the women to Lake Louise, while the men tackle the storied Audi Birds of Prey races in Beaver Creek, CO.
QUOTES Marco Sullivan Last year we had a few good days on the Speed Center before heading to Lake Louise to start our World Cup season, but this year we should be able to have a few good weeks with World Cup snow conditions and terrain.
The facility is invaluable for our development pipeline. In the past we trained downhill from six to eight in the morning and none of the young racers who trained later in the day even knew we were there. Now we're having midday sessions and the club kids can come over and watch some of the best downhillers in the world. I learned a lot like that while I was young. It's inspiring for kids to see what the top level is doing.
Stacey Cook The Speed Center has created an atmosphere that's special and makes you want to push harder. It's our own. The men and women's team train alongside each other and there's a lot of pride that comes along with that - everything about the environment helps you progress.
What we really gain with the Speed Center is training on World Cup snow conditions. With the Speed Center, we can create race-type conditions for every session and that's a huge advantage, especially this season while we're all trying to figure out new ski setups.
Patrick Riml, U.S. Ski Team Alpine Director I have to give a lot of credit to Copper Mountain. They've put forth a tremendous effort in working with our snowmaking partner HKD to produce quality snow very early in the season. Mother Nature still has to help us out a little, but we will for sure be training on the Speed Center much earlier than last year.
This is a legacy project for the U.S. Ski Team that will enhance not only our World Cup programs, but every program along the way that leads to the World Cup, World Championships and the Olympics.