Action-sports complex opens at Copper |

Action-sports complex opens at Copper

Andrew Wineke
The (Colorado Springs) Gazette/AP
Aspen, CO Colorado
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS APRIL 4-5 ** Brandon Voegtle practices a backflip on the 35-foot Snowflex ramp at the new Woodward at Copper terrain park and pipe indoor training facility in this photograph taken on Wednesday, March 4, 2009, in Copper Mountain, Colo. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
AP | The Gazette

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. ” So you want to learn to huck.

You could do things the old-fashioned way: 1. Find a cliff. 2. Throw yourself off it. 3. Do something cool on the way down. 4. Reflect on what you’ve learned while recovering in the hospital.

Or you could try the modern approach: 1. Sign up for a lesson at Woodward at Copper. 2. Listen to tips from an instructor with a super-cool nickname like “Maverick.” 3. Apply this advice on Woodward’s 35-foot-high indoor Snowflex (an AstroTurf-like sliding surface) ramp. 4. Reflect on what you’ve learned as you pull yourself out of the deep foam pit.

The old way will make you “core.” The new way, though, is going to make you better, faster.

That’s the premise and promise behind Woodward at Copper. It’s an action-sports training ground, with skateboarding halfpipes alongside snowboard rail slides and gymnastics springboards, all in the shadow of that massive big air jump.

“In here, the intimidation is a lot lower, jumping into foam,” said Woodward instructor Adam Petraska. “It’s a huge confidence booster for the average skier or rider.”

Old fogies may not know the name Woodward, but the Pennsylvania-based chain of action-sports camps is legendary at the nation’s skate parks. It started as a gymnastics camp in 1970, added BMX racing and then BMX freestyle in the early 1980s, expanded into skateboarding in 1989, and finally brought in snowboarding early this decade. It now boasts camps in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and California, and a chain of franchised indoor skate parks, including one in Colorado Mills Mall in Lakewood. There’s even a Woodward TV show on Fuel TV.

To that action-sports empire comes the new Copper facility, which opened last month with a heavy emphasis on snow sports and a location in a 20,000-square-foot barn across the street from the lifts at the Summit County resort.

“You start here and then you take it outside,” said Ben Brown, director of Woodward at Copper. “Instead of what I call hucking and hoping,’ they can get that safe progression.”

At the grand opening, 13-year-old Justin Goldsberry of Denver was practically salivating to get onto the jumps. Sure, Woodward’s classes are expensive, said his dad, John, but you have to keep things in perspective.

“Compared to the bills you get at the emergency room, it’s not that bad,” he said.

Yeah, it’s a little weird to drive all the way to Copper Mountain just to spend a day indoors. But, if that day makes all the days to come on the slopes a little better, consider it an investment.

Most of Woodward’s clients are grommets 8-18 years old, although the facility is open to everyone and has attracted a fair share of attention from Olympians and pros.

During the summer, Woodward will stay open to cater to weeklong camps. In winter, the focus is on one-day camps (a hefty $199, although that includes a lift ticket and lunch), 90-minute introductory sessions ($69) and uncoached two-hour drop-in sessions ($25, although you have to take a day class or introductory session first). There’s also open skating sessions ($10), for boarders bummed by conditions on the mountain.

You have to be an intermediate skier or rider to sign up. As instructor Kyle Barnoff put it, “We just want to make sure they can get to the jump ” that’s where our instruction comes in.”

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