While Copper Mountain doesn’t open to the public — or even to the U.S. Ski Team — until next Friday, for some members of Team Summit it’s already day five on the snow.
“It’s awesome getting out on the mountain before it opens,” 11-year-old Jasmine Laube said, while taking a break in the Solitude Lodge at mid-mountain.
Team Summit ski and snowboard members ranging in age from 10 to 22 have been sharing lane space on the upper mountain with other groups from around the country all week, while resort crews prepare for opening day below.
“We’re working on a lot of preseason drills just getting our legs back,” snowboard coach Nichole Mason told the Daily. “We’re very fortunate that Copper gives us lane space.”
The groups have been practicing on the Copperopolis slope, which is above American Eagle chair and accessible by Excelerator lift. With crews still preparing the lower mountain, team members still have to ride American Eagle chair down at the end of their sessions.
“This time of year, early season, we’re trying to revisit the fundamentals,” ski coach Jared Hedges said.
That means balance, edging, pressure control and rotary drills.
“Very few of them are going at full speed,” media relations manager and intro-to-race coach Peter Alexander added.
Team members, many of whom are in their schools’ early release programs, have been doing drills that work each skill set as they make their way through on-mountain courses.
Early season conditions were impressive Friday, with solid coverage across the slope. Work crews looked as though they’d made a lot of progress on the lower mountain, and what will be the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center in East Village looked almost ready to go.
“Today, day five, is probably the best conditions we’ve had,” Hedges said.
Next week the team will be sharing the mountain with some of the best athletes in the world as Copper welcomes the U.S. Alpine Ski Team when it returns from Europe to open the annual Speed Center training program starting Nov. 1.
Team Summit organizers plan to bring their team members to the Speed Center at the base of Super Bee lift in the East Village, to catch a glimpse of the pros.
“Any exposure that these athletes can get to some of the best in the world is a positive experience,” Alexander said.
Laube said it was cool to watch them last year, and she’s looking forward to it again this year.
Neighboring Team Breck also got on-snow activities underway on Thursday at Arapahoe Basin.
Copper Mountain opens to the public and the U.S. Ski Team next Friday, Nov. 1. Copper will host the ski team’s official team announcement ceremony the following week, Nov. 8.