Copper Mountain Resort embraces downhill skiing with race series and daytime routes

Runners line up at the start line at Copper Mountain Resort during the resort’s first set of uphill races this winter.
Photo by Curtis DeVore / Copper Mountain Resort

When Copper Mountain Resort President and CEO Dustin Lyman saw the level of demand for ski touring and ski touring last March, he knew Copper needed to add a series of uphill runs to the lineup of the station.

Since Lyman began running the resort at the start of the 2018-19 winter season, the Boulder native and former National Football League player has leaned into the resort’s niche as “the mountain. of the athlete ”. In addition to serving as the official training site for the United States Alpine Ski Team and an elite training and competition site – via Woodward Copper Mountain Park – for park and pipe sports, Lyman thinks the climb is part of the Copper brand first for athletes.

“For all gravity sports, copper is already the preferred training ground,” said Lyman. “… We just continue to develop what is really already our brand organically.”

With Breckenridge Ski Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area community and uphill racing are well established, Copper “is part of the whole puzzle,” as Lyman put it in Summit County. That said, Lyman and the Copper team knew that it might be possible to create specific uphill routes and races for people during and outside of ski lift opening hours with Copper’s naturally divided terrain. Much like Woodward Mountain Park, Copper has cultivated its uphill network with options ranging from entry level to expert.

“We’re interested in developing the sport, and it’s more accessible if we’re able to provide a daytime itinerary,” Lyman said.

Lyman himself is an avid uphill enthusiast who competed in the first series of copper uphill races sponsored by Mammut. Lyman and the station wanted to take what is often a lonely sport and bring people together with the series, albeit this first year as part of COVID-19 security measures.

The resort saw between 30 and 40 participants for each of its three races, which culminated with the season-ending Copper Cup on Saturday April 10. Lyman said the mass start multi-wave race illustrates Copper’s place in the uphill community. The race traversed the resort terrain from the East Village base area on a steep 3,000-foot incline to the highest point on the mountain. There at 12,400 feet – at the top of the Storm King lift – runners skied to the finish line at the base of the Sierra and Rendezvous lifts. The morning races ended with a stunning sunrise as a backdrop above the tree line of the Tenmile and Gore Ranges.

The resort president finished in the middle of the field in all three races as he highlighted several resort employees for their strong runs, including ski patrol supervisor Shauna Bocksch. Bocksch, who won the first women’s sports race and finished second in the second race, helped to help the resort cultivate a true uphill running experience. Bocksch said the second race in the series, with a pre-sunrise start from West Village, encapsulated the uphill vibe with the sun pointing behind clouds high on the course.

“And there is camaraderie at the top,” Bocksch said. “There is a common link with the painkiller. “

The other best runners in the series this season were Mark Koob, who won the second race of the season and was twice second; Eric Broecker, who won the first race of the series; and Stephen Rosenman, who finished in the top four in all three races. Art Whitehead won the Copper Cup in 48 minutes and 57 seconds.

On the women’s side, Team Summit ski mountaineering head coach Jaime Brede won the Copper Cup in 1:03:17, as well as the first race of the season. Marisa Watsom also stood out with the women’s overall victory in the second race of the season and second place behind Brede in the Copper Cup.

Bocksch credited Lyman with pushing the limits to expand the opportunities on the uphill. After the station hosted this series and operated four routes this season, Bocksch believes the station will add more events and set up a framework to further expand safe uphill programming next year.

“The feedback from all of our users is very positive, and there are a lot of opportunities,” she said.

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