The indoor/outdoor training facility is where Olympians and Neophytes alike come to bump up skills in nonthreatening, controlled setting

by Karen Rubin

There is nothing like Woodward at Copper, a year-round indoor/outdoor snowboard and freestyle ski training facility that caters to all ages.

The coaches at Woodward at Copper are “bad ass”. ‘Bad ass” is the way you feel when you find yourself propelled up from an indoor mountain slope, execute a rad maneuver, and land in a pit of foam blocks.

And this is a good thing.

In the summer, there are week-long camps, but during the winter season, you can take advantage of drop-in programs that last a couple of hours or a full day program that goes from The Barn to the slopes.

Practicing a ski maneuver into the pit of foam blocks © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Other training facilities, including two other Woodward facilities (one in Pennsylvania and one in California) are for cheer, gymnastics, inline skating, or BMX.

But Woodward at Copper Mountain Resort, housed in a 19,400 square foot building that is affectionately known (and looks) as The Barn, is one-of-a-kind.

The Barn was clearly built for teens, though people of any age are welcome (they recently had 72 year old doing 360s and back flips). That’s the thing about Copper Mountain Resort: It has a teenage mentality; even grandparents strut with that aura of “rad” about them.

Woodward at Copper was the first building of its kind when it opened in 2009 (a similar structure has since opened in Laax, Switzerland).

Inside The Barn are the artificial slopes of Snowflex, manufactured in the United Kingdom, that simulates the same feeling under foot of mountain snow (you need to wear long sleeves and pants because the surface is prickly).

The Barn, Woodward at Copper's indoor training facility © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There are also six Olympic grade trampolines, for practicing the maneuvers before getting onto the slope. Three of the trampolines catapult you into foam pit, greatly reducing the potential for injury.

There is a lounge area where teens tend to hang out before or after their session, feeling a sense of ownership and community in this place. There are extreme ski/snowboard videos playing on a monitor; one of the kids sits down at the end of his session, and picks up the electric guitar that is there.

But it is not just the facility but the programming that sets the training at Woodward at Copper apart.

The essence of the program is to provide a safe, controlled and fun learning environment, and teach all levels of park and pipe riders and skiers through established progressive training techniques, oriented around individual goals.

The Woodward at Copper model uses the progressive training techniques through the development of body and aerial awareness, both on the slopes as well as in the Barn. The Barn features training devices that allow you to work on their tricks in an environment that reduces the potential for consequence. By being able to practice the trick into foam pits instead of on-snow, The Woodward at Copper staff teach you to move away from the “huck and hope” method, where you just ‘huck’ yourself off a jump and ‘hope’ to land it. Based on your abilities and goals, the Woodward at Copper coaching staff work with you on anything from your first ever grab to figuring out how to “cork” a trick, as well as innovating the newest trick to hit the scene.

Landing in a pit of foam provides a safe, controlled way to practice a new trick at Woodward at Copper © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Everyone is required to start with “One Hit Wonder” – an introduction to the program with the emphasis on safety.

The program involves 1) aerial awareness 2) muscle memory and 3) how to use everything in a safe manner.

You might think that Woodward is most intense in winter, but actually, the main business at Woodward at Copper are the week-long summer camps – Colorado’s only on-snow summer terrain parks (they farm the snow).

In winter, though, Woodward changes into a drop in program of two-hour segments (at 2, 4, and 6 pm daily) and a day-long program, including lunch and lift ticket, where you start off at the Barn in the morning and go out on the parks on the hill with a professional coach in the afternoon, starting from the kids terrain park and moving up in five-feet progressions.

On the hill, another unique aspect is that you make your first jumps into an air bag instead of hard snow.

The drop-in program at Woodward at Copper lets you practice moves © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You can also take private lessons through Woodward, one-on-one with a coach, and you can do multiple days in a row.

Woodward started out as a gymnastics camp in State College Pennsylvania, in 1970 (the program is now called Woodward East; there is also a Woodward West in California).

Every four years, there would be an uptick in campers because of the Olympics. But when the US boycotted the Olympics in 1980, Woodward introduced skateboard and BMX training. (Now, all the Summer X Games athletes come from this training camp).

Phoebe Mills was the 1988 bronze medalist in gymnastics, the first US woman to win a gymnastics medal in a non-boycotted games. Through college, did diving, and then picked up snowboarding in college. She taught at premier snowboarding camp in country, and started dry ski/snowboard camp at Woodard East.

Then she got idea for ski/snowboard specific camp and took what they did in gymnastics and skateboarding and applied it to snow sports.

She helped design and program Woodward at Copper, which is the first of its kind ski and snowboard indoor/outdoor training program.

Progressive training at Woodward at Copper starts with gymnastics and learning how to tumble © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The best way to take advantage of Woodward at Copper is to take the day program and set a goal.

Say your goal is to do a 360.

After the warm up (stretches), you jump on a trampoline and learn the moves to do the 360, and then learn the forward motion into a pit. Then you do it on the indoor slopes, progressing from the most gradual to the steeper slopes. Then after lunch, you go on to snow and do the trick into the airbag, and finally, onto the snow.

All participants are required to start with the “One Hit Wonder” program ($70), for safety’s sake, when you learn how to stretch and fall correctly.

The drop-in program is $29 per session, but you can get a punch pass for 5 or 10 visits at $20 each, good throughout the season.

Woodward at Copper provides a safe, controlled environment to practice new tricks © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The tricks are done into a pool-sized pit filled to a 6-7 foot depth with foam blocks, on top of a foam base.- one of the pits is filled with some 23,000 foam blocks. These are the largest non-motorized foam pits (foam pits are also used to practice tricks on motorcycles).

I watch as various participants practice their tricks and land in the foam, and realize how hard it is to get out when you are attached to skis or a trampboard (like snowboard but made of foam) – there is a rope you can use to pull yourself out, but there are also coaches right there who help.

You first practice on an Olympic grade trampoline to teach aerial awareness, muscle memory.

When you’ve done that into the pit, then you progress to the slopes, which are sprayed with silicon for each jump.

Video cameras are on delay so after you do the jump, you are back on top to review how it went.

The Barn also has indoor skate bowls, ramps, and park; people come from 2-8 pm and skate for $10 –something else that cool, fun, hip to do.

Take advantage of free snowshoe tours, offered twice daily by Ambassadors (even the equipment is free) © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There is a whole community that forms around Woodward at Copper. Kids sit around the lounge, and watch films of death-defying tricks that don’t seem humanly possible.

You should be intermediate to advanced, but you can be as young as 8 (though exceptions can be made) to 80.

But Woodward at Copper is a place where Olympians and neophytes can come to bump up their skills in a nonthreatening, controlled atmosphere.

Woodward at Copper is great for a multi-generational experience (you can imagine bonding over sharing such an experience), for groups, and team building exercises.

Winter Programs

This winter, the Woodward at Copper program is enhanced with the addition of an upgraded 22 foot superpipe and cutter.

Also new this winter, is the Woodward at Copper Park and Pipe Session, a fully coached, on snow session from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily. Woodward at Copper coaches will focus on the skills you want to learn and provide video analysis. The session is catered towards achieving your goals while utilizing all of Woodward at Copper’s Terrain Parks and 22′ Superpipe. This session includes access to the Woodward at Copper Airbag, weather permitting, and is designed for ages 10 and up, only for guests comfortable on intermediate terrain or higher. Helmets are required.

Even green skiers get a spectacular view at Copper Mountain © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There is also a new Woodward at Copper Holiday Camp, from Dec 27 – 30. This is a fully coached multi day camp, where day campers will engage in activities from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Tuesday – Friday. Woodward at Copper coaches will focus on the skills you want to learn and help you achieve those skills through our custom progressions. Ages 10 and up comfortable on intermediate terrain or higher is required. Lunch and dinner are included, and helmets are required.

The Winter Camp Day is the best value for your Woodward at Copper winter experience, where you practice on both the indoor features in The Barn as well as Copper’s on-mountain park and pipe features. A Winter Camp Day includes setting up a goal for the day (“I want to learn how to do a Rodeo 540”), fully coached morning session working on tricks in the Barn and afternoon sessions on the snow in Woodward at Copper’s terrain parks, lunch and a lift ticket. Helmets are required. Winter Camp Days are offered to anyone 10-yrs-and-up who is comfortable skiing/riding on intermediate terrain or higher. Guests can take advantage of a single Camp Day, 2 or 3 Camp Days consecutively, with a 5% multi-day discount applying. The best discount in the land is for Copper-only Season Passholders – buy one Winter Camp Day, get one for FREE!! In addition, Rocky Mountain Super Pass (and Pass+) holders are offered buy one, get one at 50% OFF of Winter Camp Days.

Private Sessions are also available, when participants work on whatever it is they would like one-on-one with a coach. Woodward at Copper coaches are trained on everything from beginner techniques to the most advanced tricks. It is recommended for every participant to complete a One Hit Wonder Session before booking a private session. However, in some cases (management discretion) the private Lesson can fulfill the One Hit Wonder requirement.

The One Hit Wonder is a mandatory 1 hour and 45 minute hands-on, introductory session designed to familiarize and help guests become comfortable with the trampolines, foam pits, Snowflex® and other features in The Barn. This session will teach you the key techniques to help you progress faster and safer using the equipment and features in the Barn. Helmets, loose clothing and long sleeves are required – jeans are not permitted. The One Hit Wonder is available to anyone 8 yrs-and-up and is required for anyone who would like to participate in a Drop-In session.

Drop-In Sessions last just under 2 hours and are a time when skiers and riders can work on what they want, using The Barn to focus on the trampolines, jumps and rails, or using the spring floor for stretching and tumbling. Guests will not have designated coaches during the Drop-In Sessions, but all features in The Barn will be supervised. Helmets are required for the Snowflex® and Skatelite features. Drop-In Sessions are open to anyone who has completed a One Hit Wonder, Camp or Park Rats program.

Airbag Sessions are also available. Woodward at Copper now has its very own airbag on the snow, completing the next step in the progression. Take off on a real snow jump and land softly on 14,400 cubic feet of cushion, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily (weather permitting). The Airbag has a surface that allows shredders to land their trick if executed correctly, but at the same time allows for a cushioned landing if something goes awry. Once you feel comfortable landing your trick on the airbag, then you can take it to the snow – the Airbag serves as the crucial step between having your tricks dialed inside the Barn and trying it on snow in Woodward at Copper’s terrain parks.

Skate/BMX sessions allow skaters and BMX riders to session The Barn’s bowls, mini-ramps and street skate area. No introductory session is required and is available to guests of all ages. Helmets are required for all participants; elbow and knee pads are recommended for those under the age of 18.

One of Copper Mountain's terrain parks © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Another distinctive feature of Copper and its approach is The Woodward at Copper Cage. Located at the base area, this is not your normal retails store – it is a full service snowboard, ski and skate shop, carrying all the raddest product needs from brands like Grenade, Altamont, RVCA, Orage, Nikita, Burton, Anon, R.E.D., Oakley, Bonfire, Coal, Yea.Nice, Smith, Armada, Skullcandy and many more.

It’s also the place to hang out in a cozy lounge outfitted with huge bean bags where you can catch the latest shred flicks, play some of the newest video games, challenge friends to a game of foosball, or edit all your sick footage on the free Red Bull iMac video editing bays. Don’t forget your shoes, so you can skate the 2 ft. indoor mini-mini bowl.

To get signed up for a Woodward at Copper session, call a Copper Mountain Vacation Specialist at 888-350-1544, The Barn at 970-968-3400, or visit www.woodwardatcopper.com. You should make advance reservations.

Copper Mountain: Not Your Grandpa’s Family Resort

Woodward lends a distinct personality that sets Copper Mountain Resort apart, gives the resort a rhythm and an atmosphere that is different from the rest.

Copper Mountain Resort is not your typical family mountain destination resort. It is hip, rad, happening… Cool.

Copper Mountain is a distinctively different sort of family mountain. Copper was a pioneer with its Belly Button Bakery (where part of the children’s program involved baking cookies), and now is a pioneer in ski/snowboard training.

It is a place where everyone finds their youthful spirit. Baby Boomers will forget they are eligible for Medicare and feel like 20-somethings again with Copper’s 80s motif that 20-somethings today find charming.

The free Ambassador tour takes you to some of the most gorgeous parts of Copper Mountain that you might not otherwise visit on your own © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There is even fun music playing on the shuttle bus that takes you around the resort (“Free Ride,” by Leonard Skinner is playing on one of my trips).

Copper exudes a youthfulness, a spirit, an energy.

That energy is everywhere at Copper – from the color scheme and typeface that evoke the 1980s, to the music that is piped into the plaza, to the on-mountain lodges and terrain parks, and on the shuttle buses. And it’s infectious.

I mean, it is enough that the altitude, crisp, clean air, and the excitement of coming down the slopes get those endorphins going, but at Copper, they dance to a beat.

It’s not just the atmosphere, it’s also the programming on and off the slopes, most notably Woodward at Copper, which is a unique indoor/outdoor skiing/snowboarding training facility and program, (more on that to follow).

Then there are the teams that come from all around, its parks and pipes including a 22-foot Superpipe (new this season), and an active apres-ski and you have a really happening place. Besides Woodward at Copper, there are many things that make Copper unique (and I don’t usually use the word), most spectacularly, free Ambassador Orientation Tours of the mountain, the Noon Groomer (one groomed trail is kept closed until noon, so there is fresh powder even in the afternoon); free snowshoe tours offered twice daily (even the equipment is provided for free), free ice skating on a small pond at the Center Village (rentals available), and a score of special events and programs like free skiing with a Ranger, and a chance to watch avalanche dog demos with the Ski Patrol (Saturdays, meet at the top of the American flyer or super Bee lifts at 12:30 p.m.).

And how about this? Free cat skiing to advanced terrain on the double-black diamond terrain of Tucker Mountain. Cat skiing at most places is sold at a premium price, but at Copper, you can take free rides, first-come, first-served. This is as close as you can get to a back-country experience while staying inbound in patrolled terrain. Two cats, each carrying 12 people each (24 people every 20 minutes), go back and forth between 11 am. and 1:30 (weather permitting). The Cat takes you up to a spot where you can ski down, but there are those who like to hike another 20 to 60 minutes to get to even less tracked terrain. This is just for experts, though – just getting to the base of Copper Bowl, requires navigating expert terrain.

There are other special events that give Copper its distinctive character (as well as added value): Kid’s Night Out, which is common at most ski resorts, has an interesting twist here (as well as at Winter Park): the $30 per child fee is waived when you spend $30 on dining or shopping in the village during the time your child is in the activity program, where they get pizza dinner and have activities (recommended “date night” dinner place: CB Grille, which is both upscale, sophisticated, yet comfortable, featuring steaks, chops, wild game and seafood cooked to perfection over a wood-fired grill), and live guitar music several nights.

Copper’s Mountain affords 126 trails and 2465 acres of skiing, including bowls, glades, accessed by 22 lifts. The lift system is well done – most of the lifts are detachables – quads, six-pack – giving that easy on/off experience (the best thing to happen to skiing since shaped skies) and you never wait more than a few minutes even when there are long lines (thanks also to the computerized readers and the cheery operators), and there is rarely any wait at all once you got on the mountain.

This year, a new high-speed quad in the West Village base area cuts the lift ride time up to the terrain park in half! Also some of the features to the Bouncer Terrain Park have been moved near the 22′ super pipe, which is a great location to also watch the riders boost air from center village.

Skiing forges a special bond between parent and child © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The trails are so beautiful – even on a busy day, there are trails that are hardly touched (an Ambassador can point you to the best ones; I found Jacque’s Pique (a word play on Jacque Peak), one of several stunning blue trails off the Timberline Express, which you almost feel you have to yourself, and was that day’s Noon Groomer trail.

There’s plenty to do off the slopes as well.

You can take a dogsled ride, attend a mushing class, or tour the mountain trails above 10,000 feet on a Polaris snowmobile. Or, take a sleigh ride (a 40-minute Scenic Sleigh Rides, offered at 5:30 pm, is $35 adult $25 child; A Triple Treat Sleigh Ride, offered at 4pm and 6:30 pm consists of a 30 min sleigh ride through the Valley of the Ten Mile range, time to get off the sleighs, take pictures, and pet the horses, warm up in a tent with hot cocoa and s’mores while listening to live music played around the woodstove, $50 adult $40 child, call 866.416.9872 for reservations).

You can also try your hand at Colorado Kite Force, which uses the skills of snowboarding or skiing, to cruise snow-packed Lake Dillon.

During the season, there are also a score of activities that take place at the fire pit in Center Village, amid the burning stone torches; about five times a season on a Saturday night, there are bonfires throughout the village, fire spinners, a torchlight parade and grand finale of fireworks.

Copper Mountain is located right off the highway, less than two hours drive from Denver International Airport.

Gray Line operates the shuttle service between Denver International Airport (DIA) and Copper Mountain, about $60-$80 one-way (grayline.com).

Check out package deals, as well as photos of the various lodging choices, at Copper’s website,www.coppercolorado.com. For lodging info and reservations, 888.219.2441, Guest Services/general info, 866.841.2481.

Thursday, 8 December, 2011


© 2011 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visitwww.examiner.com(In National)www.examiner.com(Long Island). Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

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About Travel Features Syndicate

Karen Rubin is an eclectic travel writer who has been spanning the globe for more than 30 years reporting on interesting, intriguing people and places to explore for magazines, newspapers and online. She publishes Travel Features Syndicate in newspapers and online including examiner.com, Huffington Post and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate and blogs at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. "Travel is a life-changing and an interactive experience that mutually benefits travelers and community." Contact Karen at FamTravLtr@aol.com. 'Like' us at www.facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

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