Last week the International Olympic Committee officially announced that Ski Halfpipe will debut as an Olympic medal sport at the 2014 Games in Sochi. That's big news for one local ski resort: For U.S. athletes the road to Sochi will begin at Copper Mountain, host of the first Olympic qualifier in December 2013 as the opening event of the 2013/2014 United States Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) Grand Prix.
"Copper Mountain is excited to host the first year of the Grand Prix as an Olympic qualifier now that a skier halfpipe event has been added to the Olympics," writes Copper Mountain spokesman Pete Woods. "This new announcement from the IOC solidifies Copper as the centerpiece for progression from an athlete's first trick to qualifying for the 2014 Olympics."
And wait, there's more: Copper Mountain also recently inked a deal to renew its contract as host resort for the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) Nationals amateur competition, currently in its third of three years, for an additional five years. Get up there today and tomorrow to catch the final days of this year's Freeskier Nationals to see what it's all about.
For the last three years Copper's been staking its claim for the earliest North American superpipe of the season in order to be ready to kick off the USSA Grand Prix (in Olympic years the Grand Prix becomes the qualifying circuit for American halfpipe snowboarders and, henceforth, skiers). Copper's commitment to also host the USASA Nationals means its 22-foot superpipe, built to Olympic specs, is in Olympian shape through at least April.
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Actually, make that June or July: The resort is planning on keeping its superpipe and some of its terrain parks going long after its April 24 closing date to host the Woodward at Copper summer ski and snowboard camps, where the next generation of Olympians will be learning how to fly.
And if all that Olympic talk makes you wonder why Colorado has never hosted the Winter Games, come to Copper this Saturday for the radically retro Red Bull 1976 Games. The event, paired with the CBS Alt Games college action sports championships, commemorates the infamous year the IOC approved Denver's bid for the Olympics before local voters rejected the price tag.