There’s always been one glitch in Copper Mountain’s naturally segregated green/blue/black terrain, which funnels experts, cruisers, and newbies—safe and smiling—to their respective sections of the mountain: beginners teetering off the American Flyer lift were often dusted by jibbers railing it to the Woodward at Copper (formerly Catalyst) Terrain Park. For the park fiends, it was faster to hop on the Flyer for an extra half-mile of blue bombing than to chafe on the creaky High Point double chair, which provided the most direct service to the park.
Copper remedies the situation this year by replacing the circa-1976 High Point lift with the Union Creek High-Speed Quad. The new lift ascends from the also renamed Union Creek base area, now known as West Village, with a slight realignment of the termini for better traffic flow. The lift covers the same 1,000 vertical feet in five minutes, less than half the time it took the old High Point. Parkers can now rip off laps through Woody while leaving a little more space for schussers heading to Center Village.
If you still long for that bracing blast of ice crystals to the face, though, head over for a speed run at the new U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper. The nearly two-mile race-training course links some of the steepest sections of the Super Bee lift’s runs—Andy’s Encore, Oh No, and Rosi’s Run. The Bee side of the mountain will be dedicated to the pros through mid-December in a long-term agreement between Copper and USSA, but spectators are welcome to watch from the East Village patio, where the likes of Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety may be approaching at close to 70 mph.
Finally, keep your goggles cleared for Copper’s Snow Day pass, which debuted on the down low last December. Copper officials have been noncommittal on repeating the pass for 2011–12, but if they do rerun the offer, jump on it. Last year’s Snow Day pass cost $99 for unlimited lift access any day four or more inches fell—which seemed like nearly every other day. Claims the website (coppercolorado.com): “Four inches has never been so satisfying.” Well, then. Let it snow.