Unable to travel for camp, Team Summit skiers return to snow at Copper Mountain Resort | SummitDaily.com

Unable to travel for camp, Team Summit skiers return to snow at Copper Mountain Resort

Team Summit skier Chet Wheeler runs through drills on Saturday, June 13, during the club's return to snow at Copper Mountain Resort.
Chris Carson / Team Summit

FRISCO — Team Summit Executive Director CB Bechtel says within the club’s Alpine program coaches and skiers sometimes jokingly say when the season ends that’s when the training gets the best. But there is some truth to that.

With spring’s warm slushy ski days full of fun followed by overnight freezes, Team Summit’s Alpine athletes get some of the best Alpine ski training and racing conditions on home snow of the year each spring.

Spring’s fun, a time period of trying new tricks and techniques on snow, was lost for Team Summit’s athletes and coaches this spring due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and resulting shutdown. After March 14, Team Summit coaches and athletes effectively had the end of their seasons canceled.  The United States of America Freeski and Snowboard Association Nationals at Copper Mountain Resort, the country’s largest annual ski and snowboard event, wasn’t the only end-of-season championship event lost.

“Almost every one of our groups lost their national championships,” Bechtel said. “We probably had 80 to 100 kids qualify for a national championship, and that’s a full year — if not a full lifetime — of investment to get there. And then in a typical spring, we have big local block at Arapahoe Basin (Ski Area) that takes place in late April and early May. And there’s an Alpine snowboard and park and pipe block that takes place in late April. We’d go all the way into somewhere around the 20th of May. So a lot of those kids lost 16-20 days of on-snow time in April and May, which is all that prep period for next season.”

As many other elements of society and life begin to resume amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Team Summit returned to the snow for the first time on June 3 at Copper Mountain Resort. Bechtel credited Copper Mountain with working together with the club — due to travel and health concerns amid COVID-19 Team Summit thought it best not to travel to Mammoth Mountain in California and Mount Hood in Oregon for early-summer camps as originally planned.

Instead, Copper put in the work to allow for Team Summit Alpine and mogul skiers, in groups of 15 athletes at a time, to train on ski lanes off of the Super Bee lift out of Copper Mountain Resort’s East Village. From there, 75 Team Summit skiers a day have been able to have a camp-like training and summer-snow experience similar to what they would have had in California and Oregon.

Alpine skiers began taking laps on the Ptarmagin, Copperopolis and Upper Andy’s runs on June 3 while mogul skiers began Friday, June 12. That setup off the Super Bee was specially made for Team Summit — traditionally each summer Woodward Copper conducts their on-snow summer camps for park skiers and snowboarders at a more westerly location at the resort dubbed Pipeline Park — a location Bechtel said Team Summit initially thought about.

“And this Copper situation is really part of big, long term dream for Team Summit,” Bechtel said. “It saves our families thousands of dollars. There are costs for the training, but not for travel, housing — all that extra. One of the things we hope for Team Summit is that we are the ski team that is doing everything we can to fight the rising cost in our sport, and for this because of Copper Mountain’s generosity, we were able to do that.”

The return to snow for Team Summit comes after many club athletes did whatever they could throughout the quarantine to muster up ski setups at home. Team Summit and U.S. Rookie Team freeskier Jenna Riccomini skied on special non-snow setups back home in Pennsylvania. Team Summit mogul star Jackson True skinned up into the Peak One and Mount Royal area with Bechtel, his step-father, to backcountry ski when he could.

And Team Summit’s Human Performance Director Chris Hughes developed a 3-day-a-week virtual strength and conditioning program for club athletes which also helped keep kids connected.

Bechtel said demand is high for their current creative camp programming at Copper.

“It’s high in general for activities for kids right now,” he said, “We’re at full capacity out there.”

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