The best get better
For the best-in-the-world women’s speed team,
Copper is just another weapon in their arsenal
heading into this Olympic season. While they
at times shared training space with the Norwegians, Russians and a few Austrians, no other
team in the world had the kind of access as the
Lindsey Vonn, for one, was afforded an opportunity to run full-length speed for the first time
since her knee injury in Schladming — a crucial
step in the process of returning for the speed
events in Beaver Creek.
“My downhill is definitely not where my super G
is,” said Vonn in early November. “My super G
is some of the best super G I’ve ever skied, but
downhill still needs a little bit more time.”
Vonn did ultimately put in the time training downhill at the Speed Center, but a crash on Nov. 19
jeopardized her comeback.
In the women’s races, held Nov. 11 and 12, Leanne Smith came up with the fastest time on the
squad in the super G events, which were held
two weeks before the speed opener in Beaver
“It was nice to get back into race mode again,”
said Leanne Smith after the win. “It’s nice to get
into some pace and the race mentality before
Beaver Creek in a couple weeks.”
Smith posted the second-fastest time in the first
of two FIS super G races, followed with the win
in the second. She traded places — one and two
— in those races with four-event World Cup ski-
er Lotte Smiseth Sejersted of Norway, who has
also had access to the Speed Center’s race hill
recently. Stacey Cook had two good results, fin-
ishing third in both super G.
For Laurenne Ross, perhaps more than anyone
else on the team, the early prep period at Copper was particularly crucial, as she finalized her
switch onto Völkl equipment this season.
“[Copper] is definitely advantageous for us to
have the full-length downhill,” said Ross. “It’s the
only place in the world right now that has that.
We’re really lucky to be in our home country. So
often when we train preseason it’s off in another
country, so it’s really cool to be so close to home.
Pretty much everything is prepared perfectly for
us and it’s a great place to test.”
At the time, Ross said she was close to nailing
down a final setup heading into the World Cup
“I think [the new equipment] has helped me feel
more connected to the snow; the setup is definitely not as aggressive,” she said. “It just suits
me a lot better.”
Perhaps more important than the elite-level
training, which is relatively short-lived (
roughly three weeks), the Speed Center at Copper
Mountain benefits athletes a little further down
the totem pole.
The Norwegian noted that there are no other
kids in the world who are skiing like this at this
time of the year, said USSA Regional Alpine
Director Lester Keller. “This is going to make
a huge difference over time,” said Keller. “We
have all three regions here. We had a national
U16 project just now. With the super G training
that we’re able to do, with the downhill training
that we’re able to do —watch out.”
Steven Nyman cruises the Speed
Center at Copper Mountain.