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USA's 2022 Beijing hopefuls head to Colorado for final pre-Olympic tune-up

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-10-28 17:26
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DENVER, United States - Copper Mountain, the iconic 5-star ski resort located 75 miles west of Denver, Colorado, will remain closed until November 30, as hundreds of American Olympic hopefuls dominate the slopes.

The storied ski resort that celebrates 50 years of operations next year is "beginning to look a lot like the [Beijing 2022] Winter Olympics," Olivia Butrymovich, Communications Director for Copper Mountain Resort, told Denver 9News.

Known simply as "Copper" by native Coloradans, the resort opened in 1972 and has 23 lifts on 2,465 acres of mountain terrain, and offers more than 140 runs.

Copper sits at an elevation of 9,712 feet with a summit elevation of 12,313 feet, according to Colorado Rocky Mountain Resorts.

"The fact that we have this many professionals on the hill is very exciting for us," Butrymovich said of the more than 300 professional skiers and snowboarders expected to hit the exclusive resort in the next few days.

Thanks to an atmospheric river coming off the Pacific Ocean last week, the front this week dropped more snow in the high Rockies, creating extraordinarily good conditions for skiing, much to the delight of Colorado's ski resorts, and the pros who descended en masse on Copper.

"It's the end of October, I can't complain right now," a ski racer deadpanned into the 9News camera, as a high-elevation, sizzling Colorado sun baked his face and racing gear.

In December, Copper will also host the two critical Olympic qualifying runs to decide the American ski and snowboard athletes who will travel to China in February 2022 for the 24th Winter Olympic Games.

The Copper Mountain pre-Olympic interviews and look at Copper's new, unique, month-long venue was captured by 9News and a YouTube video was released Wednesday that has since gone viral.

"Due to COVID-19, US Ski &Snowboard together with Copper Mountain has created protocols to ensure consistency with local and state regulation, including no spectators or media on site," Copper's website says of the training and upcoming Olympic trials.

Butrymovich also said that the upcoming Olympic trials in December might be the best chance for Americans to see their ski and snowboard Olympians in action.

A massive amount of planning and energy went into creating the COVID-19 protocol to create a safe environment for athletes and staff," the resort said.

"Copper Mountain is proud to be the official training site for the US Ski Team. For decades, the resort has supported athlete development, providing world-class training and competition venues for elite level and amateur athletes across multiple winter sports disciplines," said the resort earlier this month in a press release, noting that US Ski Team members expected to train at Copper next month include two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin, World Cup Super-G victor Ryan Cochran-Siegle and veteran speed skier Steven Nyman. 

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