IRONWOOD — Skiers will once again fly at Copper Peak.
On Friday, USA Ski Jumping and Copper Peak announced an exhibition ski flying event to be held from Feb. 28 to March 2, 2014.
The last ski flying event at Copper Peak, the only ski flying facility in North America, came in 1994. Officials expect about a dozen ski jumpers in the event with athletes from the United States and Canada. Invitations to athletes from other nations will be extended.
Copper Peak has since seen many renovations geared to hosting an event like this.
“To bring the thrill of ski flying to athletes and spectators back to the States will play a vital role in showcasing the efforts that both USASJ and Copper Peak aspire to in creating greater visibility for the sport. This will also allow us to look at more creative, non-traditional ways to format and showcase big hill jumping,” USA Ski Jumping athletic director Alan Johnson said in a press release.
Copper Peak has been open to tourists, including the newly designed mountain bike trail system and the Copper Peak Adventure Ride that includes a trip to the top of the tower.
The pinnacle, though, has always been ski flying. Copper Peak’s Bryan Sanders, a U.S. Olympian in ski jumping at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games, said in the release that Copper Peak’s board of directors are thrilled to host the event.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Sanders said. “We’ve had massive debt to retire since the last event in 1994. And the venue has seen huge improvements that are bringing this historic ski jump up to current FIS (International Ski Federation) standards. We’ve not got a positive revenue stream and have improved the chairlifts, the elevator, the drainage on the hill and have recountoured the landing hill with over 2,000 tons of dirt. This summer we are installing our new snowmaking facilities and the takeoff has been lowered. It’s now a 175-meter hill size and I think it will be a very safe and really exciting hill that’s coming back to life.”
The sport itself has become safer.
“The changes and development of the sport since Copper Peak closed are significant,” Johnson said. “The sport is much safer and controlled than 20 years ago, enabling skiers to jump much further and control their flight.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the old hill record will fall this winter. The question should be how many times. This is just a win-win concept for all involved.”
The Copper Peak record is 158 meters (518 feet) set by Austrians Werner Schuster and Matthias Wallner in 1994.
Copper Peak was built in 1969.