Copper Mountain, CO, Nov. 12--The alpine World Cup will launch its North American swing at Copper Mountain Nov. 18 and 19, resort officials said Thursday.
Unseasonably mild weather in Park City, Utah hindered snowmaking efforts at the ski area, inevitably forcing race officials with the International Ski Federation (FIS) to consider alternate plans.
The buzz among the racers training at Copper Mountain was that the season opener would be relocated. U.S. Ski Team racer, Tasha Nelson said she had heard the rumors that the races would be moved to Copper, and said she wouldn't mind. After all, the team is already settled into the area, and they've been getting to know the hill. "It's been great training here," Nelson said. "The snow is hard and fast. It's going to be a great year."
Copper hasn't hosted a World Cup race in more than 20 years. The last time the White Circus stopped here, German ace Rosi Mittermaier was still at it, lending her name to Rosi's Run, over on the east side of the mountain.
But Copper's race and events coordinator Jeff Frishette said the resort will be able to pull it off. According to Frishette it presents a logistical challenge, but he expects several hundred workers from Park City to help with the set up.
The slalom and GS races, will likely be held on Main Vein, a long cruiser located in the heart of the ski area, near the American Eagle quad chair. Snowmaking crews have been firing up their guns whenever the temperatures drop below freezing, and have been able to lay down a solid 18- to 20-inch base. In addition to the terrain beneath the American Eagle, the ski area plans to offer top-to-bottom skiing on Rosis Run, as well as some terrain in the beginner area near K Lift when the lifts open next weekend.
"We think we've hit it just right," Frishette said of the snow. "It's a multi-purpose product." He was referring to the consistency of the man-made powder, which is hard enough to allow for good race conditions, yet carvable enough that recreational skiers can set a good, clean edge.
The U.S. women's team held time trials on Copperopolis Friday, with speed merchants like Kristina Koznick and Libby Ludlow battling for starting spots in the upcoming races.
"The conditions are fantastic. I'm glad were able to train here," said Alison Powers from nearby Winter Park after her run through the course. Ski team officials also said they're pleased with the way training has gone. The racers are ready for the season, said Alan Ashley, Vice President of Athletics for the team.
"The team is coming along," Ashley said. "We've had great quality and quantity of training and good conditioning. And Copper has been great hosting us. The amount of effort the staff puts into this is tremendous."
Since last seasons World Cup finals in March, the U.S. team has traveled from Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood in the Pacific Northwest to the glaciers of Zermatt and Pitztal in the Alps during the summer. Copper is the final stop on the training circuit before this race season starts for real in just over one week.
"Its a year-round thing now," Ashley concluded.