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home : outdoors : silent sports
May 23, 2018

2/9/2018 7:28:00 AM
Copper Peak welcomes Red Bull 400 and the possible return of ski jumping
Emily Koester/lakeland times
Emily Koester/lakeland times

Beckie Gaskill
Outdoors Writer

As reported in last week's Outdoors section of The Lakeland Times, Copper Peak will be hosting a Red Bull 400 event in May of this year.

Registration for that event filled up quickly, according to Kaari Huotari, Copper Peak marketing and communications director. The 400 competitor slots filled in just a few days, she said, so they opened up 50 more entries, which were filled within hours. There was currently a waiting list of 280 people who would like to participate in the event, as of last week.

The Red Bull 400, now in its second year, challenges athletes to climb 400 meters up an incline not necessarily meant for such a charge. Ski jumps are used all over the world for these competitions, during times when they would normally sit idle. Copper Peak has not seen competition since the 1990s, Huotari said, and they are looking forward to this event, which will be held on May 12.

"We are looking at putting together an itinerary for the competitors and their families," she said. "We want to show them all the things to do here. They could stay in the area longer. We are really trying to push getting people to stay her longer."

She spoke of the waterfalls and many other attractions the Copper Peak area has to offer visitors. With the athletes and spectators combined, they are expected around 2,000 visitors.

Repairs were made and rocks taken out of the slope of the hill in preparation for the event. Approximately half of the competitors are from the Michigan and Wisconsin areas, she said, and the rest were from all over the world. Competitors train all year long, she said, but no training days are held at Copper Peak. The Red Bull 400 will take place at Copper Peak for the next five years.

The Red Bull 400 is free for spectators. The original thought was there would be 500-600 spectators, but Huotari said, with the response they have had so far, they are planning for a good deal more.

Visitors from after Memorial Day Weekend to mid-October can take advantage of the Scenic Adventure Ride at Copper Peak. This ride is available seven days per week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weather permitting. It is $20 for adults and $8 for kids.

"They take the chair lift up, then walk to the elevator," Huotari said. "From there they take that up and walk up another eight flights to the tippy top."

On a clear day, visitors can see three states, Madeline Island, the Apostle Islands and Lake Superior from that vantage point. All proceeds from the Adventure Ride go toward engineering for Copper Peak. Now, Copper Peak is saving for another big project, and those proceeds will go toward helping to fund that project.

"It's the Summer Grand Prix Event, which is an Olympic event," Huotari said. "And we'll be hosting it in the fall of 2019, in either September or October."

The International Ski Federation has started pushing for summer ski jump events, she said, and Copper Peak looks to be well on its way to hosting the world championship for those events. The circuit, she said, goes around the world, including Europe and the United States.

"The inside track will be lined with porcelain and the slope will be covered in plastic," she said. "So they ski down the porcelain and land on the plastic."

There is no upkeep in the winter with this type of ski jumping, she said, but the overall project will cost $14 million to undertake. Huotari said she was hoping to hear about $10 million worth of funding from the State of Michigan soon. The proposal had passed out of both legislative committees, but would need to go to the senate and house floor. More funding will be needed, however, and Huotari said they are looking toward crowd funding and possibly donations from private entities to complete the project.

"We have the Red Bull event to get us publicity and to get us out there and then we have our big project, the Summer Grand Prix," she said. "It's looking pretty good. Everything is kind of coming together right now."

Those looking to keep up to date with the Red Bull event, or the project to bring the Summer Grand Prix event to Copper Peak can connect with the facility through its Facebook page or on www.copperpeak. com.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at bgaskill@lakelandtimes.com.

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