Copper Biz League race series returns for 2017 on Jan. 12 | SummitDaily.com

Copper Biz League race series returns for 2017 on Jan. 12

There's a dynasty at stake on the Copperopolis giant slalom course this winter.

Beginning Jan. 12, Frisco local Jeanette Saylor and her six-person ski team, Jensco Red, return to the Copper Mountain Business League Race Series as seven-time defending champions. The team has won every year since 2009 and takes the Thursday morning series very, very seriously, as in there's plenty of heckling and high-fiving between every run, like some kind of big, boisterous family reunion held every other week in winter.

"It's fun to be the team to beat," said Saylor, a 60-year-old native of British Columbia who now lives full time in Summit County. "It's a lot of fun. Most everyone who is out there has been doing this for years, so they're trying to beat us."

It's no wonder Saylor and Co. have dominated the popular adult ski-racing series for so long. The team, named for the Denver-based pipe and equipment company she owns with her husband, is stacked: There's Steve Jones, a Summit Cove resident and Biz League veteran, and Franz Fuchsberger, owner of Fuxi Racing USA in Center Village and a former Powder 8 champ.

Then there's Saylor, who started seriously ski racing when her family moved to Aspen in 1971. She held a spot on the Canadian national team from 1974 to 1977, and after moving to Summit, her daughter trained and raced with Team Summit Colorado. Saylor is a downhiller by trade, but that doesn't mean she's a pushover in the GS gates.

"At that time there was only slalom, GS and downhillers," Saylor said of her early years on the international race circuit. "Super-G didn't get started until the early '80s, but I loved going straight. I can go much faster going straight than turning."

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Jensco Red might be the team to beat, but the series as a whole is anything but intimidating, Saylor said. Most of the competitors are 30 years old or older, and the series is open to everyone from never-evers to former pros. One of the oldest racers, 82-year-old Tom Tate, makes the drive from the Front Range to Copper every other Thursday for a few hours in the gates.

Like most Biz League racers, Tate also competes in NASTAR races across the state and country. The skill level on Copperopolis can be high, to be sure, but that usually takes second stage to fun, fun and more fun.

"One of the best parts of this is that it's a relaxed atmosphere," said Dustin Schaffer, competitions coordinator for Copper. "Everyone is competitive and gives each other some playful hazing, but this still isn't overly competitive to the point that it's intimidating."

After the races — things get started at 10 a.m. and usually end around noon after 40 to 60 competitors have taken a few runs apiece — everyone heads to Double Diamond in East Village for a post-race party, including free pizza, drink specials, raffle prizes and video recaps from the slopes.

"Everybody out there has so much fun, and they all love to ski and ski race," Saylor said. "That's why we're all there."

2017 Copper Biz League kick-off

What: The first giant slalom race of the 2017 business league season, open to skiers of all abilities 18 years and older

When: Thursday, Jan. 12, at 8 a.m.

Where: Copper Mountain Resort

Cost: $30 per race, $525 per season for team of six

The race series includes eight events, all held on the Copperopolis giant slalom course near the top of Super Bee lift at Copper Mountain. Racers can enter as individuals or as teams of six. Registration begins at 8 a.m. on race day at the competition office in East Village (base of Super Bee), followed by racing at 10 a.m. There is no online registration. Competition ends around noon, and all racers are invited to an after-party at Double Diamond with pizza, drink specials, raffle prizes and video replay from the course. To find out more, email competition coordinator Dustin Schaffer at dschaffer@coppercolorado.com.

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2017 Copper Biz League series schedule

All races are held on Thursdays, with registration at 8 a.m. and racing at 10 a.m. Beginners and solo racers are welcome.

Jan. 12 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis

Jan. 19 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis

Jan. 26 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis

Feb. 16 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis

Feb. 23 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis

March 2 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis

March 9 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis

March 16 — Giant slalom, Copperopolis