Copper closes with a hot cocoa splash |

Copper closes with a hot cocoa splash

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News

Special to the Daily/Copper Mountain ResortSunday's closing weekend excitement included the SlopeSoakers floating rail jam, sponsored by Red Bull.

Contestants shuffled through a bamboo forest, slid under a line of skiers, wove through a lift line maze, navigated a ski patrol rope web, swam through beach balls and balanced over a pond of hot chocolate – all in the name of Sally Francklyn.

The event was Copper Mountain’s inaugural CopperMan adventure race, and at the last minute, organizers decided to use it to raise money for the former Copper patroller’s recovery from a skull fracture. She injured herself while skiing near Jackson Hole several weeks ago.

Through “superhero sponsorships,” super hero cape sales and a donation from National Ski Patrol, $900 was raised to help with Francklyn’s medical bills. On Sunday, Copper Mountain chief Gary Rodgers announced Copper Mountain would match it with another $900.

Francklyn’s Facebook page, which allows friends near and far to follow her progress as updated by her brother, calls Francklyn “Super Woman Sally.”

Word among Francklyn’s old friends on Copper staff is that, as of Monday, she was still in serious condition, but responded to her family’s voice by moving her hand.

Even with Francklyn’s condition, the capes brought cheer.

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“Everybody loved the capes. No one would take them off,” Woods said.

The event was completed on foot, and culminated with the hot chocolate pond (filled with all-natural cocoa for easy and environmentally safe disposal) where spectators shot marshmallows as distraction. Steve Croucher of Vail took first place in the roughly 2-mile snow-venture, though he didn’t swim in the hot chocolate.

The race was not only a success in raising money for a friend’s recovery. It was also a successful change in direction for the resort, which seeks to finish out each season with an event focus and music as a supporting act.

“It worked,” Copper spokesman Pete Woods said. RedBull, the sponsor for Sunday’s SlopeSoaker floating rail jam event, is “excited to take it to the next level next year.”

The goal was to draw competitors who would participate in the events and bring friends. Live music afterwards is just another reason to stick around, Woods said. In other years and at other resorts, crowds come just for the music. Woods wants them to take advantage of the mountain, as well.

“It was a good-sized Sunsation crowd,” he said. “The event helped. We’re trying to get people to come during the day … We’re trying to make it a full-day event.”

In the minutes leading up to Sunday’s headline act, Pato Banton, Burning Stones Plaza in Center Village was about two-thirds full – even with the remnants of the weekend storm clearing out.

“It’s what we were hoping for,” Woods said.

As of the early hours of closing day, Copper’s snowfall in 2011-12 tallied 174 inches. That’s compared to totals that reached over 300 inches last season.

“Overall, it was a difficult snow year, but there were several bright spots beyond the sun,” Woods said. “Despite the difficult national snow message in January, destination guests returned at a higher level, Copper hosted more competitors during the (United States of America Snowboard Association) Nationals than ever before and the new Union Creek quad did a fantastic job giving quicker access to beginner terrain and Woodward at Copper’s Central Park.”

Skiing was good up to closing day, with some season-end highlights in Jupiter Bowl and elsewhere on the mountain that saw larger snow deposits with the help of the wind on Sunday.

Woods attributed the good conditions during a largely snow-less March to the hard work of the resort’s snowmaking team.

“It’s amazing what a snowmaking team can do when they know how to use it right,” he said.

And even with less than half last year’s snowfall, all of Copper’s terrain opened for at least a few days, with the snowcat-accessed Tucker Mountain open for 19 days this season. Woods was unable to provide data on how many days it was open last season.

“It seemed like a good season despite the snowfall, but I’m sure everyone can admit the lack of snowfall was a large player in the way things shaped up this season for the resorts. In all, we had a great season as Copper’s base elevation, north aspect and significant snowmaking are distinct advantages. All three paid huge dividends this season,” Woods said.

Copper’s summer activities include base area adventures, downhill mountain biking, golf and Woodward at Copper’s summer camps that include on-hill terrain park practice – even this year.

New this year is a zipline across West Lake. And Copper will continue to focus on events, as Wanderlust, “the ultimate yoga and music experience,” launches. Other events will center around a cause, such as the 23rd Annual Courage Classic in support of the Children’s Hospital of Colorado and the Copper Triangle in support of the Davis Phinney Foundation and Hike MS.

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