Athletes raced 400 meters straight up the largest artificial ski jump tower in the U.S. during the Red Bull 400 at Copper Peak in Michigan.
Ski jumps are typically reserved for the high-flying efforts of skin-suit-wrapped winter athletes. But this summer, the Red Bull 400 event series transforms ski jumps into race courses. And one of the first events of the tour was at Michigan’s own Copper Peak.
Check out the video below to watch the sufferfest.
The Red Bull 400 took place on May 12 in central Michigan with 450 competitors. The men’s and women’s divisions crowned the winners Ian Torchia of Marquette, Mich., and Anna Mooi of Ironwood, Mich., with times of 4 minutes 48 seconds and 7 minutes 15 seconds, respectively.
Now entering its eighth year, the Red Bull 400 continues to expand its reach with 17 events across the world.
“It was awesome to have an international event come to our town – for the exposure and to highlight the awesome recreational opportunities we have here in Ironwood,” said Mooi after her victory.
Red Bull 400 Stats: Quick, Grueling Race
The course has runners ascend 140 meters in elevation across 400 meters in distance. At peak steepness, the climb reaches 37 degrees, with athletes forced to tough it out on all fours.
According to Red Bull, the lactic acid buildup is about 20 times more than normal running, and muscles struggle to get enough oxygen to function. Ahmet Arslan, Turkey’s defending champion, has won 14 of the 16 Red Bull 400s he’s attempted.
“You must use the whole body,” Arslan said of the Red Bull 400. “When I reach the finish line, I don’t feel my muscles.”
He says after 100–150 meters, his muscles and lungs tightened up, and the lactic acid buildup was overwhelming.
Copper Peak Hosts Red Bull 400
The ski-flying hill has not seen an international sports competition since 1994. But as we reported in February, Copper Peak organizers hope to re-establish the ski jump and region as a “global outdoor recreation destination.”
This summer, Copper Peak will host Summer Grand Prix competitions.
Find further information on the Red Bull 400, including event dates, here.