The joys of skiing and snowboarding in summer at Woodward Copper
Special to the Daily
Pavilion Park season extended to Sept. 19
Don’t have the cash for a full week of camp? No problem. Woodward Copper recently extended the season for Pavilion Park (found just above Center Village) to Sept. 19. The park comes complete with more than a dozen features — jibs, rails, a quarter-pipe and tabletop booter — and is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $20 per person. For tickets, just swing by the Woodward store in Center Village or see the website at http://www.woodwardatcopper.com.
Summer camp is an experience like no other. You meet new people, learn new things, travel to lands unknown and, for one of the first times in life, are completely without the supervision and presence of parents for days on end.
When I was 17, I had the opportunity to attend summer ski camp in Oregon. As an obsessive skier, this was a dream come true. That week of camp ended up being the best week of my life — but for reasons inexplicable at the time.
I found myself, to this day, asking, “Why was it so great?” It wasn’t just the skiing or being away from my parents. The emotion I felt for that week was much deeper, but it was hard to conceptualize into concrete thoughts. This July, I wanted to see if summer camp still felt the same as it did in 2008 by attending the Woodward Summer Ski and Snowboard camp at Copper Mountain Resort.
Back to camp
Past camp emotions came bubbling back to the surface as I went through camp introductions. Thoughts of intimidation and insecurity after meeting new people, excitement of getting to explore new territories and — most powerful of all — knowing that I would ski the next day filled my head. Even though I had been to the Woodward facilities before, it still felt like a new experience, as many of the features were fully explained for the first time.
Our first stop was in The Barn, Woodward’s indoor facility for off-hill fun. With a skate park, a handful of trampolines and three foam pits, the building is truly a Mecca for extreme sports training.
I’d never been very good at jumping on trampolines and could never figure out why. As I did my best “rolling down the windows” rendition with every jump, my trampoline coach, Peter Rudman, noticed something that he thought would help solve my problems.
“You need to look straight out more,” Rudman explained. “When you look down, you lose your center of gravity.”
It seemed too simple to be true, but I took Peter’s advice and was astonished to find that it did improve my performance. Within minutes, I transitioned from flailing on every jump to finding a confident sense of air awareness.
Learning at summer camp can be incredibly valuable because it provides an important foundation to build on in the future. Whether you’re at a traditional camp and learning to build a fire, or getting that first 360 at a camp like Woodward, these concepts can be crucial for bigger and greater achievement down the road. After all, you can’t start a double flip without that first 360.
Improving at trampolines was an important avenue for me. It allowed the opportunity to learn certain tricks on skis that are too dangerous to try on snow for the first time.
Skis with wheels
One impressive aspect of The Barn sessions is Woodward’s wheeled skis and snowboards. As strange as it may sound, these skis were surprisingly agile on skate park surfaces (known as Skatelite), to the point they almost feel like a new version of the rollerblade.
The best part was, they opened doors for new tricks.
Inside The Barn lies a ramp with three jumps of different sizes, followed by a large foam pit. Within minutes, I was able to use the wheeled skis to throw flips into the abyss of cubed foam.
A lot of the time when off-hill training, it’s hard to replicate a true on-snow feel, but with these wheeled contraptions, I gained a newfound confidence. The wheeled skis were the closest comparison to real skis that I have ever found off-hill. Unlike jumping on a trampoline, riding the wheeled skis and snowboards off the jumps provides an exact equivalent for the trajectory and airtime of snow jumps, with a consequence-free foam landing. It’s a revolutionary development for freestyle ski and snowboarding training, and I certainly wish it was around when I first went to camp back in ’08.
Summer on the snow
The next day was day one on snow. At first it seemed a bit surreal to be skiing surrounded by green grass and butterflies, but this crazy, wild adventure of doing something out of the ordinary is exactly what summer camp is all about.
I tried to embrace this philosophy of going out of my comfort zone from the get-go and found that I somewhat regained my skills by the end of the day. I also learned a few things along the way.
“You need to pop more off the jump,” Woodward coach Matty Marks critiqued. “You’re just trying to ride off.”
“Dangit,” I thought. I really believed that I had hit the jump right, but I took Matty’s advice and quickly found that he was, in fact, right. Most coaches at Woodward are high-level skiers and snowboarders, so the chance to utilize their deep pockets of shred wisdom is a rare and beneficial opportunity.
Even in mid-July, the Copper Central Park snow lane featured three jumps, an inflatable airbag and more than 10 rails and boxes. It was an impressive setup considering the time of year, and I was even told that a chairlift had serviced the lane for the first weeks of camp.
When I was there, we had to hike down about 200 feet of dirt, after which we would wait for a van to take us back to the top of the snow strip. It was no chairlift, but the vans still provided relatively easy access back.
After a few days of skiing, I learned a couple new tricks and was stoked on the progress I had made. The coaches seemed almost more excited at times, often showing their passion by bellowing comedic support to campers through a mega-phone.
“Aww yeah, hit that rail like a piñata!” a coach screamed at me once.
Go-karts, ziplines and skating
Even though skiing was the focus for the week, there was a great deal of other activities on-hand as well. In addition to The Barn facility, Woodward has three separate skate parks: two outdoor and one indoor.
Then there’s a variety of other activities in the Copper base area, all open to the Woodward campers. Go-karting was one of my favorites, and as I zipped around the track at impossible speeds, I thought to myself, “I feel like a kid again.”
By the end of each day I was exhausted, but had trouble figuring out why. I’m an active person, so why should a little a bit of skiing, trampolining, skateboarding, zip-lining … and that’s when I started to realize why I was happily exhausted.
At summer camp, you get the chance to let it all hang out. For the first time since you were a little kid, you have the opportunity to just play the entire day, with no commitments, structure or limits hanging overhead. After the age of 12, it’s rare to get a day like this (let alone an entire week), and that, in effect, is why summer camp is so special to many others and me. You have the uncommon opportunity to just play, with no worries or distractions for a whole week. It’s a very personal way of getting back to your roots, and when surrounded by amazing activities and facilities — along with fellow campers, coaches and counselors who are all passionate about the same things — it’s hard to not have a ball.
Even though I was drawn to Woodward by the intrigue of summer skiing, the overall camaraderie and joy of being a kid again are what will last. It was the week of a lifetime.
Snowboard and ski camps will end for the summer on Aug. 1, but weekday fun camps will run until Aug. 14. These day camps focus on the off-hill activities and are for kids 6-14 years old. The camps cost $279 per week, but if you book before the July 31 with discount code 10002, you’ll save $20.
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