Feb 17, 2022 - Sports

The Winter Olympics start in Colorado at Copper Mountain

The freestyle skiing training course at Copper Mountain. Photo courtesy of Powdr
The freestyle skiing training course at Copper Mountain. Photo courtesy of Powdr

Months — years even — before the Winter Games, Olympians from around the globe start their journey at Copper Mountain.

State of play: The Summit County resort is the official training home for the U.S. Ski Team and a base for freestyle skiers and snowboarders with its elite slopestyle course and halfpipe.

  • Earlier this month, Copper announced a new three-year partnership with U.S. Ski and Snowboard, the sport's governing body, to serve as the hub for training ahead of the 2026 Winter Games in the Italian cities of Milano and Cortina.
  • Ahead of this year's Olympics, the mountain hosted two qualifying events for athletes to punch their ticket to Beijing.

What it means: What you're seeing in the Winter Games — the sharp turns from ski racers like Ryan Cochran-Siegle and the upside-down twists from Shaun White and Red Gerard — were skills all honed in Colorado on terrain you can ride.

What they're saying: "Over time Woodward Copper has evolved to become the proving ground for snowboarding and progression," Gerard said in a statement.

How it works: Copper starts snowmaking before other resorts and debuts the alpine training race course and technical center in late October — before the mountain is open to the public.

  • Hundreds of athletes — including team members from France, Germany and Italy — travel to the mountain to get in shape for the World Cup season and the energy is especially high in an Olympic year, Copper's Taylor Prather tells us.
  • For freeskiers and snowboards, the mountain builds a competition-level, 22-foot high halfpipe, one of the few in the country, and sets up air bags to cushion riders learning new tricks off big jumps.
  • A partnership with Woodward, which shares Powdr as an owner, allows athletes (and the public) to train year-round at the indoor barn, which features trampolines and jumps with foam pits

What to know: The training race course includes four trails off the Super Bee lift: Andy's Encore, Oh No, Overlode and Copperopolis.

The big picture: Copper's focus is part of its "athletes mountain" mantra and a differentiator that helps set it apart from other resorts.

  • The draw is obvious: Who doesn't want to ride where the pros ride?

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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