OUT OF THE GATE
To climb the track of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain,
Colo., you start from the East Village, walk under the Super B lift up Rosi’s Run,
continue up the Oh No trail, work left past the top of the Alpine Lift and then
take a straight line toward the peak of Resolution Bowl. It’s a daunting hoof up.
Tommy Johnston has lost track of the number of times he has made the hike
over the past seven or eight years, but he figures he’s got 10 or so in this year
He doesn’t do it for the exercise or to stay in shape. As the alpine technical
adviser for the team, Johnson is the American downhill guru, and he’s been in
charge this site as it has grown — and will also help to make sure it disappears
when not in use, preserving the natural sanctity of the Colorado mountain envi-
“It’s a pretty big project,” says Johnston. “I would say we’re definitely pushing
The U.S. Ski Team is anticipating using the newly created facility any day now
as the first, hopefully of many early and/or pre-season speed camps to be con-
ducted at the site. USSA also envisions a handful of speed camps for racers
lower in the pipeline, which calls for an ultra-safe venue. That means netting
and lots of it.
“Tommy called me and asked for the best price we could muster on a ton of
poles,” says John Jacobs of Reliable Racing. The timing was right and Reliable
started churning out 4,500 B-net poles, enough to accommodate 450 sections
of B-net, a little more than a mile’s worth. Along with the poles comes a new
quick-release fastening system.
“Up to now B-nets have been held on with wing nuts and bolts, which work
okay,” says Jacobs, “but I can’t tell you the number of gloves I’ve gone through.”
The Copper system will use 9,000 levers and 9,000 hooks — and presumably
save many pairs of gloves.
The more time-sensitive portion of the project involved the A-nets and the spe-
cialized poles and framework that hold them. A-nets are a wonder of design that
capture and cradle a skier making an unplanned exit, reducing the possibility of
catastrophic injury. As he oversees the transport of steel (manufactured in Italy)
to Colorado via cargo ships and trucks, World Cup Supply’s Brad Williams pro-
Copper a Super-Fast Conductor
New Speed Center ready in Colorado BY HANK MCKEE
A glimpse of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain before the snow started falling.
SkiRacing.com OCTOBER 31, 2011 | 13