COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (CBS4)– The 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia are still 463 days away but training starts Thursday for the US Ski Team at a one-of-a-kind facility at Copper Mountain.
On Wednesday, the US Ski Team Speed Center was opened to more than 200 VIP Preview Contents winners who received an up close and personal tour of the course.
Even though the course opened in November 2011, it didn’t open until nearly Thanksgiving. It’s nearly unheard of to have a professional ski racing training terrain open by the first day of November.
“It’s beautiful, the mountain’s done a great job. I can’t think of how they could have done it any better,” said US Speed Center Manager Tom Johnston. “I would say November 1st is always a very optimistic day.
Despite warm temperatures, the center started making snow a few weeks ago. It’s not your normal man-made snow.
“We want a harder, slicker top, not a nice fluffy top like they do such a good job of here,” said Johnston.
“The snow is better already. The first day you can see it’s a little firmer than it was last year,” said US Ski Team member Will Brandenburg. “Having it open earlier just lets us get on those speed boards earlier than the rest of the world. Being able to do that is a huge advantage.”
The team can train harder on longer runs, weeks ahead of what used to be possible.
“It just allows you to develop those skills, get comfortable on those skis and as you get into the season you’re ready to rip,” said Brandenburg. “Once the results start coming, everyone will be talking about it.”
On Wednesday Copper Mountain opened up the training center to some lucky contest winners who got a close up view of where the ski team will be training.
“We thought it was really important for our guests to see how game changing this is for our industry,” said Copper Mountain spokeswoman Austyn Williams. “They get to really experience what the ski team experiences.”
One of those winners, Paul Stiel, brought his ski racing grandchildren from Minnesota.
“Just the experience of being here and seeing the people and being able to ski with people tops in their class. It’s just a great experience,” said Stiel.
For those who aren’t on the US Ski Team, normal operations on groomed runs at Copper Mountain begin Friday.
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