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Copper Mountain, CO Nov. 20 (AP by Mike Clark)–It was a simple announcement: Due to lack of snow, the women’s World Cup ski races would be moved from Park City, Utah, to Copper Mountain.
Carrying out that switch, however, was anything but simple.
Try moving miles of safety fencing and padding, hundreds of slalom poles and running five to seven miles of TV cable–in two days.
And consider that the United States, always able to manufacture snow, had never faced the task of moving a race on short notice.
“We’ve been lucky and consistent the last 15 years and we’ve never had to go seek out snow,” said Alan Ashley, athletic director for the U.S. Ski Team. “We’re fortunate we’ve had so many resorts willing to help us out. Copper has always been real supportive of our training for our athletes and the snow was here, so we came asking.”
Karen Korfanta, prevented by weather from running races at Park City for the 13th year, pitched in with her experienced crew to help Copper Mountain, which hadn’t staged a World Cup race in 23 years.
“What we brought over here from Park City was a lot of the equipment, the finish pads, all the gates, most of the B-fencing” that protects fallen racers, Korfanta said. “Early in the week, eight or 10 people from Park City came over to assist, mostly the crew chiefs that we use in our races. The idea was they would come over and take a group from Copper and just go do what needed to be done. Someone didn’t have to learn what was needed.
“I think the fencing was mostly done by Tuesday afternoon, and on Wednesday they finished it. Thursday was just tidying up and making sure everything was in the right place and ready to go.”
Don’t think this was like, say, moving your back fence down the street to a neighbor’s yard.
“For the GS (on Thursday), we brought 10,000 to 12,000 linear feet of fencing,” Korfanta said. “The pads alone, we had over 100, filled one of the trucks. Another truck we filled with 192 rolls of fencing, and the other truck we filled with other equipment, like rakes and shovels, as well as gates.
“Winter Park committed x-amount of stuff, Jackson sent down some B-fencing. They double-fenced the giant slalom and there wasn’t a lot left over so we used almost everything everybody brought in.”
Another major consideration was television. All World Cup races must be televised to Europe, and Copper Mountain had no TV cables.
“Aspen donated its cabling to the cause and we assembled crews that started laying cable Sunday and Monday,” said Tom Kelly, information director for the sponsoring U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
“We’re talking 5, 6, 7 miles of heavy coaxial cable. For every camera, they need to make a run down below to the truck.
“It was a huge, huge effort to get it in. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been working with regular World Cup sites to get that cable installed so it’s a little easier putting events on.”
Racing was the real test, of course, and Korfanta said the number of late starters among the top finishers proved the course was in prime condition.
“As long as you can make it so someone from the back can slide into the top 10, there’s nothing wrong with the course,” Korfanta said. “I think that was obvious yesterday and again today.”
Six racers from the fifth and sixth seeds of 15 scored points by placing among the 30 fastest in Thursday’s giant slalom, and three more matched the feat Friday.
Korfanta, for one, fears this year’s crash project may have to be repeated annually unless the scheduling philosophy is changed.
“If they continue to schedule the races early, and the dates by the calendar continue to get earlier, at some point you’re not going to be able to do it,” she said. “Next year the calendar puts this race two days earlier than it is this year.
“When you look at it from that angle, perhaps we ought to go back to Thanksgiving weekend in the States and move eveerything back so you have a little better guarantee that you’re going to have the cold weather and the snow to do the job.”
Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press