Copper will host 2005 Winter Gravity Games | SummitDaily.com
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Copper will host 2005 Winter Gravity Games

JULIE SUTOR
Summit Daily file photo/Brad Odekirk
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COPPER MOUNTAIN ” The world’s top winter action-sports athletes will descend on Copper mountain in March for four days of world-class corking, tail-grabbing, rail-sliding and racing.

Outdoor Life Network (OLN) announced its Winter Gravity Games will debut at the resort March 3-6, featuring about 175 elite competitors in nine medal events, including men’s and women’s snowboard and ski halfpipe, boardercross and slopestyle.

“It is the largest event Copper ever will have hosted,” said Copper spokeswoman Jamie Wilson. “It’s definitely a big score for us. Right now, we’re marketing to the ‘gen X’ crowd. It fits that group and the ‘generation Y’ crowd.”

Event organizers expect the games to bring $10 million in revenue to Summit County.

OLN acquired the summer Gravity Games in January and staged five days of competition last month in Cleveland. The event drew more than 125,000 spectators, despite four days of heavy, hurricane-caused storms.

The cable network recently added extreme water sports to its lineup through Gravity Games H2O, a spray of wakeboarding, kitesurfing and tow-in surfing competitions set to begin later this week in Australia.

The first and only Winter Gravity Games was held in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., in 2000.

OLN spokeswoman Amy Phillips said the network has not yet set an attendance goal for the Gravity Games at Copper, but she expects the reputation of the summer event and the growing popularity of action sports to drive its winter success.

“We see action sports in general as the locomotive to get the younger demographics,” Phillips said. “We want them to have more of a constant presence, rather than have them just pop up on the network every so often.”

The Winter X Games in Aspen enjoyed its best success in 2004, after almost a decade of promoters building the event. The snowsport showcase used its partnership with ESPN and its live television coverage during primetime to help lure its biggest audience, 18-34 year olds.

In addition to athletic competitions, the Winter Gravity Games will feature activities and free concerts for spectators. Fans at the Australia event this week will groove to the tunes of pop-punk sensation Good Charlotte.

“The impact the Gravity Games will have on the community will be tremendous, not only for Copper Mountain, but for Summit County as a whole,” said Steve Paccagnan, vice president of Copper Mountain Resort.

Resort officials are already planning for the event’s impact on local transportation, an issue that has nettled the resort with parking difficulties during big events and peak skier days.

“We’ll be working with the local communities on transportation and getting guests here. Transit is going to be a large challenge,” Wilson said.

OLN began its search for a Winter Gravity Games site with a list of 15 resorts.

“(Copper was) very enthusiastic right from the start,” said event director Kevin O’Grady. “They see the value of bringing the Gravity Games to this area.

“The mountain lays out really well for us. They have a world-class half pipe, which is a must for what we’re trying to do here. It’s going to be an amazing event with courses that have never been seen before,” O’Grady added.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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