A place for backflips: Copper opens Camp Woodward
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COPPER MOUNTAIN ” Pro snowboarder Erich Dummer took a deep breath, nosed his board over the edge and plunged at breakneck speed down a 43-degree ramp to a launching pad, flipped one and a half times as he soared through the air ” and augured in, head first.
Rather than call an ambulance, however, his friends gave him high-fives after Dummer was rescued from an upside-down burial in a swimming pool-sized pit filled with foam blocks.
“I landed right on my head. It’s totally fun,” the 26-year-old Breckenridge resident said with a big grin.
Welcome to Woodward at Copper, a Romper Room for kids of all ages that opens Saturday, where champion terrain-park riders and tentative neophytes alike can rub elbows, learn new stunts and fall ” repeatedly ” in complete indoor padded comfort.
Part of the famed Pennsylvania-based extreme-sports skills-development franchise, the 20,000-square-foot barn at Copper caters to the parks-and-pipes crowd with skateboard ramps and bowls, tumbling mats, trampolines and the centerpiece: the 35-foot-high ramp covered with white plastic turf known as Snowflex that simulates a terrain-park jump.
On Wednesday, as a graffiti artist finished off a mural on a plywood wall in the entryway, members of the Woodward at Copper pro team took part in the One-Hit Wonder program, the basic 90-minute introductory course that acquaints participants with the features and how to use them safely.
Beginning with a brief stretching session followed by some easy tumbling ” Prime advice: When falling, twist in the air to land on your back, not your stomach, and keep your head tucked as you roll ” the riders quickly began testing their limits as they progressed to flips and twists.
“It’s like gym class,” chuckled snowboarder James Frederick of Boulder, a top rail-jam competitor.
There was 18-year-old halfpipe skier Taylor Seaton, who has won several USSA park competitions, easily twisting 720s off the trampoline before flipping into a pit of the forgiving, six-inch-square electric-blue foam blocks.
And Jess Cumming, one of the top freeskiers in the world, bouncing from her back to her feet as easily as most people rise from an easy chair, obviously completely comfortable and in control in the air.
Donning helmets and either their boards or skis, team members then took a couple of test runs on the lower portion of the Snowflex ramp and ” forgoing the short “cliff drop” practice ramp that simply spits participants into the pit about five feet below ” they hiked the stairs and went directly for the big air.
“We just started testing this on Monday, and all of us had interesting experiences on this,” said instructor Patrick O’Toole. “When I got to the top, honestly, my hand was shaking. … I think most kids are going to get up there, and they might change their minds.”
Not this group. From the first launch, there were no signs of fear or even mild concern for well-being. Seaton whipped off a couple of half-twists, called 90s, out of the gate, and immediately the game was on.
Dummer, the subject of numerous magazine displays and films, backflipped headlong into the foam pit repeatedly, trying unsuccessfully to finish off that second revolution and sheepishly grinning while waiting to be fished out of the pit with a rope.
Frederick, too, attempted the double backflip, rocketing a good 15 feet above the pit and landing more than halfway across the pool of foam.
“It feels really good,” he said with a laugh.
After several rounds, including some in which he spun on his skis like a helicopter in 720-degree revolutions, Seaton pulled off a backflip, landing perfectly and looking to see if anyone had witnessed the feat.
“I can’t believe I’ve never done a backflip before,” he beamed. “I tried it a couple of years ago (on snow) and landed on my head.”
That’s what Woodward instructors aim to prevent, allowing participants to perfect their stunts in the safety of the barn before taking them out onto the less-forgiving slopes.
After taking the One-Hit Wonder course, anyone 8 or older is allowed to participate in camp sessions ” fully coached day-long clinics that combine indoor practice with outdoor terrain-park riding ” and casual but supervised evening drop-in sessions that will help would-be acrobats break through their fear of flying.
“I was so impressed the first time I hit it,” Seaton said of the big jump. “I didn’t think it would do much, and it booted me right in the air and sent me as high as I want to go. I am so stoked on this. This is going to be the biggest thing to get above everyone else and to get ahead of the game. It’s like you want to keep going bigger and bigger.”
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