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Largest Ski Jump In America Set To Reopen In 2017

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[leadin]For the first time since 1994, Copper Peak, the largest ski jump and only “ski flying” facility in the western hemisphere, will reopen its run for competition.[/leadin]

"Copper Peak Ski Flying Hill" by Cbradshaw at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
Copper Peak Ski Flying Hill; photo by Cbradshaw.

Built in 1970, Copper Peak is the only sky-flying hill in the Western Hemisphere. The 35-degree, 469-foot structure that sits 26 stories above a Michigan hillside saw its last official run in 1994.

Ski Flying vs. Ski Jumping

Ski flying and jumping are very similar, however ski flying takes place on a larger hill and thus allows for longer jumps. An offshoot of ski jumping, it is not part of the Olympic Games and has its own set of records.

Copper Peak is the only ski flying hill in the Western Hemisphere, one of just six in the world. It is on the small side of ski flying hills — Vikersundbakken in Norway has a K-Point, or landing zone, at 656 feet. In comparison, Copper Peak’s K-Point is 476 feet.

2017 Competitions Announced

This week, FIS representatives announced that Copper Peak will reopen for the Grand Prix Summer Series finale event to be held in September 2017. They also announced that the hill will host a Summer Continental Cup and a Nordic combined summer event, both to possibly take place in 2018.

Copper Peak Ski Jump; photo by Cbradshaw at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
Copper Peak Ski Jump; photo by Cbradshaw Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

According to an article posted this week in Upper Michigan’s Source, the Copper Peak board of directors has plans to renovate the historic site.

“Copper Peak is unlike any other site we considered for these events and will be the only ski flying hill in the summer Grand Prix Series,” said FIS Director Walter Hofer. “This unique site, combined with the commitment shown by Copper Peak’s board and the larger community, make it a perfect host for our Grand Prix and Nordic events, and a strong contender for additional upcoming competitions.”

Renovations will include resurfacing the jump, installing an artificial surface landing zone and other enhancements to equip the site for year-round ski flying and training.

photo still from TGR
photo still from TGR

Recent Jumps

While the jump has not been used in competition for more than a decade, it has apparently seen some action from time to time. It is featured in the Teton Gravity Research trailer, below, starting at about the 25 second mark, and looks insane.

Located in Ironwood, Michigan, Copper Peak sits 1,180 feet above Lake Superior. The Peak has become a year-round tourist attraction, offering a host of activities including mountain biking and the “Copper Peak Adventure Ride” which is a chair lift to the top of the hill that offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Lake Superior and the north woods below.

After a long awaited hiatus, this enormous structure will again see regular jumps and competition and the Nordic world is eagerly awaiting the return of the sport.

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