Mountain States Cup comes to Copper | SummitDaily.com
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Mountain States Cup comes to Copper

Shauna Farnell

COPPER MOUNTAIN – As road cycling hype is dominating Breckenridge this weekend with the Saturn Cycling Classic, Copper Mountain will gauge its potential as a mountain biking mecca with the Copper Cup Mountain Challenge.

The Copper Cup is the eighth event of the 2002 Mountain States Cup series, and will feature mountain bikers from all over the world competing in cross country, observed trials, downhill and mountain cross races.

This is Copper’s first time serving as a venue for the event. Organizers of the Copper Cup said they selected the venue in an effort to jumpstart a more expansive mountain biking scene at Copper, the trail system for which currently consists of just one single-track trail.

“What our hope is, is that we will show Copper how good it is for them to facilitate a Mountain States course,” said Copper Cup organizer Eric Jean of Cycle Cyndicate. “Copper is potentially a world-class venue. Right now, they’re lacking world-class trails. We want to be a part of their development.”

Although Copper has a plan to expand its mountain biking trail system, there is no timeline set for progress. Representatives say each marked trail has to be individually approved by the Forest Service, and the funds involved with flagging trails are not at the top of the resort’s priority list.

“At this point, there is not a timeline,” said Sam Parker, Copper Ski Patrol manager, who also oversees some year-round mountain operations. “(Building bike trails) is not a capital priority, compared to other projects like our new learning center and the K-lift gondola.”

Construction around the K lift has actually benefitted Copper Cup planning. The area on the west side of Copper is being churned and excavated for the Lewis Ranch development and is consequently prime terrain for a mountain cross course.

“Our mountain cross event is going to be awesome,” Jean said. “It’s definitely the best spectator-friendly event. The course is great. We put a bunch of big berms and jumps on it.”

Mountain cross is similar to boardercross racing, where four racers start down the course. The course measures about 500 yards long, and racers can elbow, push and basically have as much contact as they want – short of taking each other out – before crossing the finish line.

The downhill and cross country races will take place on the Boondoggle single-track, Copper’s only biking trail, which is not exactly what pro riders or race organizers consider challenging.

Many regulars in the Summit Mountain Challenge (SMC) series regard the course at Copper – which they rode last Wednesday for the Copper Mountain Melee event – as the easiest of all venues in the SMC series. This, in turn, might give some of the local pro riders an advantage in the race this weekend, which is a NORBA-sanctioned event.

Boondoggle is a smooth trail that traverses the mountain and features several tight switchbacks that are virtually the only technical areas of the trail. The course will be a significant switch for regular downhillers, who typically race on steep, rugged terrain, such as the Wild Thing single-track at Keystone for the Snake River Mountain States Cup event, scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 1.

“We’re calling it a “fitness course,'” Jean said of the Boondoggle downhill. “It’s smooth, turny, and requires a lot of pedaling.”

Organizers of the Copper Cup are hoping the event serves to put mountain bike trail development higher up on Copper’s priority list.

“There’s always growing pains for a venue having a first-time event,” Jean said. “Copper talks about having mountain biking, but right now it’s as few trails as it could possibly have. Our hope is that this event opens Copper’s eyes, and gives them the cycling bug.”

On-site registration for all events will begin at Friday in Copper Village and is open to anyone who would like to compete, although non-licensed racers are required to purchase a one-day NORBA license. Event organizers are in need of First-Aid support. Volunteers who can help out can send an Email to pamela@cyclecyndicate.com.

Schedule:

Friday: Practice

Saturday:

9 a.m. Crosscountry racing

10:30 a.m. Mountaincross qualifying

1:30 p.m. Shimano kids race

2 p.m. Crosscountry awards

5 p.m. Mountaincross finals

Sunday:

9 a.m. Downhill race

10 a.m. Observed trials

3 p.m. Downhill and trials awards

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at sfarnell@summitdaily.com.


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