The U.S. Ski Team extravaganza at Copper
Early season rates
What, you don’t have an Epic Pass yet? Weird. Just in case, here are the going rates for single-day tickets at Summit County resorts. Buying online is usually cheaper. Rates tend to get higher during Thanksgiving and jump to regular season pricing a week or two before Christmas.
Adult — $100
Child — $65 (5-12 years old)
Senior — $90 (65 or older)
Adult — $74
Child — $43 (5-12 years old)
Senior — $64 (65 or older)
Adult — $78
Child/senior — $54 (6-12, 65 or older)
Adult — $76
Youth — $64 (15-19 years old)
Child — $36 (6-14 years old)
Senior — $25-$69 (60 or older)
Adult — $53
Child — $25 (6-14 years old)
Senior — $89 for season pass (70 or older)
Here’s a story for you.
At the U.S. Ski Team naming ceremony yesterday, I met young Auden Pankonin from Wisconsin while I was waiting for Shiffrin and Vonn and Ligety to take the stage at Copper Mountain. He was hanging around with his younger sister, Amelie, and the ski team’s official mascot, Champ the rescue mutt (he looks like a chocolate lab, but they assured me he was an unknown breed like most rescues). On Auden’s head was a bright-green beanie reading “Shred,” the name of Ligety’s goggle company, which matched perfectly with his lime-and-white race suit.
The Pankonin’s were two of at least 100 youth ski racers who crowded around the stage in Center Village for the event. Everyone was waiting for the chance to see decorated Olympians up close and in person — something most aspiring athletes rarely get to do. The air in the village was chilly but electric, no doubt thanks to a combination of ski team hype and bluebird skies after nearly five straight days of snow. The team couldn’t have asked for better conditions.
Auden, Amelie and Champ were standing to the side of the bustling crowd, posted up just beneath a massive screen showing GoPro clips from training runs with Ligety and Julia Mancuso. The siblings are ski racers back home in the Midwest, but, unlike everyone else, they weren’t too concerned with the screen. Odd for two youngsters, I thought.
So, what’s your favorite event, Auden?
“GS,” he said, referring to giant slalom. “I really love that.”
And yours, Amelie?
Like Mikaela Shiffin? Are you as good as her?
Then Auden tells me why he’s standing to the side: He submitted a video for the ski team’s #WhatMakesAChamp contest on social media. In the short clip — it’s no more than 40 seconds long — the 8-year-old described the determination and sheer joy that all champions share.
“Number one, I love to practice,” Auden said in his video. “When I’m done practicing, I practice some more.”
He then talked about trying hard, even when it’s not easy, and why all champions are gracious winners — and losers.
“Number four, most importantly, always have fun,” Auden said. “I can’t wait to race with Mr. Ligety at Rosie’s Run in Copper. Bye.”
It was one of several hundred videos and other clips submitted for the contest, but Ligety was impressed with the youngster’s insightfully succinct answer. So much, in fact, that he and the ski team picked Auden as the contest winner, which meant round-trip tickets to Colorado, two nights in Copper’s Center Village, three two-day lift tickets and an official U.S. Ski Team uniform.
But, there’s more. The grand prize was a day of skiing with Ligety himself, who, like Auden, is obsessed with GS. That obsession has led to two Olympic golds, including one in GS, and five FIS World Championships titles, including three in GS. He’s the undisputed master of the discipline, and I can only imagine the impact that a single day of skiing had on Auden.
And I never had the chance to ask. After snapping a few photos, the hosts started showing clips from the #WhatMakesAChamp contest and Auden was flitted away for a final round of honors in front of the roaring crowd.
I’ll be sure to watch for the Pankonin name a few years down the road, maybe at the team announcement in 2022, the first year Auden will be eligible for World Cup competition. Wouldn’t that be a story.
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