The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center, a long-term partnership between the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Colorado's Copper Mountain Resort, officially opened Tuesday during a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the venue summit. The exclusive early-season, alpine ski racing facility provides the only full-length downhill training available anywhere in the world at this time of year.
"The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper provides an immediate boost to our alpine programs," said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. "This is a game-changing partnership and a legacy project that provides World Cup caliber speed training for all levels - from elite athletes to club programs - in a safe and access controlled environment."
With 87 HKD automatic snowguns, two miles of World Cup Supply A-Net with steel structures and five miles of B-Net set on 4,500 Reliable Racing netting poles, the venue parallels Audi FIS Alpine World Cup race hills across the globe in both safety and snow condition.
"When you're at the highest level of ski racing, it's not as much about time on snow as it is quality of time on snow. That's what we gain from the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center," said Ted Ligety, a three-time World Cup giant slalom champion, who plans to use the facility to boost his results in speed events for a run at an overall title.
"Copper is proud to support and maintain world class athletic facilities in partnership with USSA that will help boost the Olympic medal chances," said Gary Rodgers, President and GM of Copper Mountain Resort. "With the addition of the only early-season, full-length downhill training course anywhere in the world, Copper has become the premiere location for early season race training."
Women, including Vonn and Mancuso, launch into the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational on Thanksgiving weekend before moving to Lake Louise, AB for the opening of their speed season. While the women's tour is in Aspen, the men race a downhill and super G in Lake Louise before attacking the Audi Birds of Prey races Dec. 2-4 in Beaver Creek, CO.
Ligety training at Copper Mountain Copyright Tripp Fay/Copper Mountain