When a roped-off, 25- to 35-foot-tall snowboard slopestyle feature suddenly appears on a ski run two hours east of the X Games in Aspen, it’s safe to assume there’s a pretty short list of people who can make that happen. That list likely begins and ends with Shaun White. After announcing earlier this week that he was opting out of the X Games to focus on his Olympic training, the two-time Olympic gold medalist apparently decided to bring his road to Sochi back to Copper Mountain Ski Resort, where he competed in the second U.S. team qualifier in December.
When reached for comment early Friday, Copper Mountain officials would only say a private party had rented a portion of the slope where the jump had been built.
A U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team representative later confirmed that White was indeed training at Copper Mountain Ski Resort.
The single-jump feature includes an oversized inflatable airbag in the landing area that is similar to the one seen late last year in some of the footage of his private training area in Australia. The jump is located on the same slope the U.S. Alpine Ski Team used for training in November.
Mountain operations groomers put the finishing touches on the large feature Friday morning. By noon the airbag had been inflated and a snowboarder was seen testing the course.
White took to the hill Friday afternoon for a short training session around 2:30 p.m. He spent approximately an hour on the course, working on aerial rotations. In all, White made six to 10 attempts on the jump, stopping to discuss his performance with coaches after each run.
Sources would not confirm how long White plans to continue to train at Copper Mountain.
While opening ceremonies for winter games are scheduled for Feb. 7, slopestyle competition is expected to begin the day before.
White qualified for the U.S. teams in snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe and is a favorite to medal in each event.