U.S. Ski Team Speed Center is now open at Copper as training gets underway | AspenTimes.com

U.S. Ski Team Speed Center is now open at Copper as training gets underway

John LaConte
Vail Daily

FRISCO — The U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain is now hosting the country's fastest racers, and the initial feedback is good.

Julia Mancuso said Tuesday the U.S. Ski Team's training camp, which is currently underway at the Speed Center, is giving her a lot of hope for the season. Mancuso is recovering from hip surgery which she received in Vail at The Steadman Clinic, and is hoping to make a return to the Olympics later this season, which would be her fifth time skiing at the Games.

"I've had a lot of breakthroughs in this camp, which has been really nice," Mancuso said.

"I've been able to train GS and super-G. I've been able to finish some full length runs."

'TRUE DOWNHILL'

Mancuso's teammate Alice McKennis — an Aspen Valley Ski Club alumna — said the Copper Mountain course has been a lot of fun to ski on.

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"There's a lot of cool terrain and cool side hills and jumps … aspects of everything," McKennis said. "It's never super steep and it's never super flat, which I think is sort of a true downhill."

Downhiller Stacey Cook said the snow at Copper will help athletes prepare for the 2018 Olympics.

"It's cold, grippy snow here, and it's very dry, and that's very similar to what they have in Korea," Cook said. "They don't get a lot of natural snow there."

Cook said with the exception of the Cortina World Cup in Italy, the central European ski racers whom Americans will face at the Olympics don't get a lot of snow like they will find at Copper or PyeongChang, South Korea.

"The compact, grippy snow is something that plays to the skillset of North Americans, for sure," she said.

GREAT FOR TECHS

At the Olympic test event in March, a World Cup race which took place a little later on the calendar than the February Olympics will, the American women notched three of the top-six results, with Lindsey Vonn in second, Laurenne Ross in fourth, and Cook in sixth.

"I was only four-hundreths off the podium, and the girl in front of me, the girl in fifth, was a hand time, so I'm still holding a grudge about that one," Cook said with a laugh, in reference to a rare technology glitch that occurred resulting in two athletes receiving hand times rather than electronic results.

"Any time a hand time goes one hundreth in front of you, you're like, 'that's wrong,'" Cook added.

Cook said when she heard fellow American West Coast skiers Marco Sullivan and Steven Nyman were fans of the PyeongChang downhill course, she knew she would like it, as well.

"I loved it from the first inspection," she said.

Dry, man-made snow like Korea's allows racers to better feel the fine details in their equipment which can make a difference, Cook said, adding that for those reasons, the Copper Mountain training camp has been helping technicians as much as racers this week.

"You can dial your equipment in very, very well here," Cook said from Copper on Tuesday. "And then you have consistency run to run, because the tracks aren't getting beat up, it's very good for the skis themselves, for the technicians to get the skis on the snow — it speeds up the process of making them faster and faster."

jlaconte@vaildaily.com