Test driving the new tech at Woodward
July 25, 2013
Everyone else in the group had already been testing the new equipment when I joined a drop-in session at the newly renovated Woodward at Copper facility Tuesday. In a way, I felt a little like a first-time skier again, looking down at the new technology I was about to click my ski boots into. Having experienced the old Woodward, I had a good idea what to expect. But wheeled skis? This was going to be different.
As soon as I geared up, Woodward coach Bo Duffy took me aside from the rest of the group to catch me up on the basics.
Just stepping into the renovated facility is enough to take a person's breath away.
"We basically opened it up to see the whole facility," said Danny Vogel, Woodward's general manager.
The new design offers guests to "The Barn" a full view of the indoor facility the moment they pass through the front door. The new more open layout at the entrance looks straight at the biggest jumps. It may not be the most confidence-inspiring sight for a first timer, but it is unquestionably impressive.
Guests will immediately notice the new wood-composite Skatelite-finished ramps that have replaced the old Astroturf-like Snowflex, making it possible for skiers, snowboarders, skaters and bikers to use the same jumps.
What they may not notice is what Woodward's staff considers the most important element of the redesigned barn: skill progression.
"With the new facility, everything we added is with the skill progression mind frame," said Vogel.
My lesson started on Woodward's newest features, the upstairs pump track and beginner foam pit. A typical first-timer lesson starts with stretching on a gymnastics floor and works up to trampoline work with foam pits before heading to the pump track.
Clicking into the new wheeled-skis felt a little like being on giant Rollerblades. Still, rolling on them turned out to be pretty similar to gliding on snow.
Duffy started with the basics, just like a ski lesson. We started on flat ground initially then worked up to the small rollers.
"You want your skis shoulder length apart, and you want to flex and extend as you hit the roller," he said.
The pump track is a series of different-sized roller features. Duffy gave me a push to give me enough momentum to roll up one of the small ramps and then down backwards.
From there it was on to the Woodward's most crucial new addition, the small foam pit beginner jump.
Vogel said that this feature makes the biggest difference in building confidence.
Prior to the renovation there was a big intimidation factor between the trampolines and the sizable first foam-pit jump ramp.
The new two-foot and four-foot jumps are geared toward even the most inexperienced ski jumper.
Jumping off the small jump is about the equivalent of jumping into the shallow end of a swimming pool.
And yet Duffy said he's seen experts and even kids pull off flips.
To get more air,"it's how you extend off of the jump," he said.
Our group lesson ended with getting a feel for rolling on the lower part of the big jump ramps.
Duffy said typically guests don't get to go off the big jumps in the first two-hour session. But they build the skills to be ready to do so in their second session.
For Vogel, one of the biggest perks of the new system is seeing parents practice and develop skills with their kids.
"It's a great way to go into terrain parks with kids," he said.
When to go
The Woodward facility is open to the public on weekends. The on-snow terrain park is also still up and running as conditions allow. Starting Saturday, Aug. 3, The Barn will be open seven days a week from noon to 6 p.m. for intro and drop-in sessions.
Woodward also offers a weekend camp Aug. 10 and 11, open to the public ages 8 and up. The two-day camp is $149 and includes on-snow and Barn sessions.
More information is available at http://www.woodwardatcopper.com
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