Copper plans winter training facility | AspenTimes.com

Copper plans winter training facility

Josh Salerno
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Team Summit freestyle skier Brandon Denker of Breckenridge executes a backflip iron cross Nov. 1 while training on Copper Mountain. (Mark Fox/Summit Daily News)

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. ” Trying a 360 tail grab or iron cross back flip 20 feet above a snowy mountain surface for the first time can leave a skier bruised and battered, just like a snowboarder’s maiden voyage across a rail can lead to injured limbs and egos.

Such lessons once only learned at the School of Hard Knocks can now be obtained in a more forgiving setting.

In partnership with Camp Woodward, Copper Mountain will begin construction on an indoor training facility in May 2008, which will provide winter-action sports junkies with an opportunity to crash and burn into foam pits, instead of packed snow.

Camp Woodward, which began in Pennsylvania, is an action sports and gymnastics camp that has expanded to California and Wisconsin. The camp at Copper will be Woodward’s first winter-focused facility. A 19,000-square­foot, 45-foot-tall building, along with on-snow features, are scheduled to open in January 2009.

“We want to give the athletes who come to Woodward the tools to create aerial awareness,” said Gary Ream, Camp Woodward’s president. “We and the athletes design devices which give them the ability to take a hit and be able to ride 5 minutes later, instead of three days later.”

Copper Mountain was one of many resorts that wanted to bring Woodward’s first winter-focused camp to their area. “I really commend Copper Mountain and Intrawest,” Ream said. ” We probably had some other options we could’ve pursued, but there’s a difference between wanting something and knowing why you want something ” Cop­per and Intrawest just got it. They understand our passion and the passion of our athletes. They know how important embracing the athlete’s ideas and fantasies are to us.”

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Woodward has done dryland training with skiers and snowboarders in the past but always wanted to incorporate that with on-snow opportunities.

“The camp has been expanding its knowledge of winter sports for six or seven years,” Ream said. “It’s exciting to have that knowledge and technology right next to a moun­tain. It’s been a dream of ours and the athletes.”

Woodward at Copper will offer all the same innovative and instructional practices the camp has given BMXers and skateboarders, but in a winter-action-sports mind-set. Pro­gressive teaching tools including foam pits, trampolines, bungee systems and synthetic snow are among the features the facility will offer, according to Copper spokesperson Lauren Pelletreau.

Woodward at Copper’s on-snow training will include a giant air bag, which will be placed below a ramp. If landed properly, campers can ride off the bag. If landed improperly, participants will be able to walk away unscathed.

“We want to bring the indoor craziness to the outdoor craziness,” Ream said. “We’re putting the final touches on the bag, which will be a great feature of the camp.”

Officials at Copper and Woodward, along with longtime camp athletes and pro freeriders, have used unconventional methods to design the facility, Pelletreau said.

“It’s been a little bit of mad science because nobody’s done anything like this before,’ Pelletreau said. “We’ve put together some dinners to bring all these people together to develop plans. Passing them around, they would say ‘I like that’ or ‘Let’s change this.’ We want to get everyone’s feed­back so we can make this a phenomenal facility.”

Copper’s training warehouse and on-snow features will better prepare new freeriders for their takeoff into aerial acrobatics and descent into grinding rail slides, Pelletreau said.

Copper began the construction of a skate bowl earlier this month. Nathan Wessel, a renowned ramp designer and owner of Wesselbuilt LLC, is leading the building team. The bowl will give mountain- goers an idea of what to expect when Camp Woodward is fully operational, Pel­letreau said.

The Woodward at Copper Lounge, located at Copper Village, will have retail space and video editing booths, along with the skate bowl.

“Video and music are going to be main priorities at the facility,” Ream said. “Campers will get the chance not only to skate the park, but a digital studio will allow for film- and video-cropping opportunities ” something that is an impor­tant feature all the other camps have.”