Keystone, Copper to host Junior Olympics |

Keystone, Copper to host Junior Olympics

KEYSTONE – For the first time in five years, the Junior Olympics are going to take place in Summit County, and for the first time in a long time, Keystone Resort is hosting a big racing event.

Representatives say the resort’s image is undergoing a makeover.

“It’s great for us,” said Keystone spokesman Mike Lee. “It’s an opportunity for us to do a big event again. We’ll see how well this goes. For a long time, we’ve kind of shied away from events. It didn’t fit with the way Keystone had positioned itself. A lot has changed in the last 90 days. In terms of where Breckenridge is today, Roger McCarthy is a big part of that. You can see his pattern of doing stuff. You go over to the Vans (Triple Crown snowboarding event) or the Grand Prix, and they’re really good at that. We see a future of complimenting what Breckenridge does.”

The United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Rocky-Central Junior (J1 and J2) Olympics will take place at Keystone Feb. 26 through March 3 and wrap up at Copper Mountain March 4.

The event will kick off with downhill racing, which, due to strict FIS (International Ski Federation) rules, will take place on the Go Devil Raceline course from the top of the Peru lift to the Mountain House. It will meet the 400-meter course requirement length for national points, but not for international points.

According to Team Summit alpine director Rob Worrell, the only Colorado ski areas that have men’s downhill courses long enough to meet the 500-meter FIS requirement are Crested Butte, Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge, the site of the 1998 Junior Olympics. In order to have a long enough course at Breck however, racers had to hike up through the woods from the Falcon chair, and ski out into the flats at the base of Peak 9.

“I hope someday those rules change in FIS,” Worrell said. “A 500-meter course is big. At Copper, you’d have to start halfway up Storm King and go to the bottom of the hill, and at Keystone, you’d have to start at the top of the gondola and go down to the Mountain House. At Breck when we had it, you’d have to go into the flats, and some kids ended up skating.”

Worrell and other Junior Olympic organizers began preparing the Go Devil course at Keystone last summer and received funds for the course’s netting safety requirement from a Summit Foundation grant.

The downhill and super-G events at Keystone Feb. 27 through March 1 will be USSA-sanctioned, and the technical events, which begin March 2 and 3 with giant slalom at Keystone and wrap up March 4 with slalom at Copper, will be FIS-sanctioned.

The Junior Olympics at Keystone and Copper are a collaboration of Keystone, Copper, USSA and Team Summit. There will be about 100 boys and 60 girls from the Rocky Mountain and Central regions competing. Tucker Burton is the only Team Summit athlete already qualified for the event, but about seven others are expected to qualify.

“It’s a great thrill as an organizer to have a high level of qualification from your own team,” said Team Summit administrative director Amy Critz. “In the sport of ski racing, clubs like ours are all trying to compete equally in Rocky Mountain Division events. What’s propelling the sport forward is to have these events. We started looking at Keystone because it’s a fine race hill – it has the vertical, and it lends itself perfectly to a finish area. Our very good neighbors at Copper Mountain were (receptive) to moving the race up there (due to Keystone’s prior race course commitments March 4). It’s excellent partnering.”

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