Already a contender for the most cutting-edge ski and snowboard freestyle training program on the planet, Woodward at Copper just got even better and is the perfect chaser for anyone hoping to tap Colorado's spring ski season. The storied facility partnered with nearby Copper Mountain Resort to offer a new Ski and Ride with Woodward program this season. Participants get to spend half the day on the mountain and the other half training indoors at Woodward's Barn – a 19,000-foot gymnasium outfitted with Olympic-grade trampolines, foam pits, and jumps fed by a 60-foot-tall synthetic ski hill.
We started at Playground Park – one of Copper's seven terrain parks – located at the top of the new Union Creek high-speed quad. The small features of Playground are perfect for warm-up. The three guys in the group were all around the same level, advanced skiers but freestyle neophytes. We did a few laps and then added in medium-sized features, boxes, and rails at the adjacent Alliroo Alley Park. Then came 180s and hitting the rails sideways. Our instructor, Max, provided a constant stream of feedback and encouragement. We ended the on-snow session at the 22-foot superpipe – everyone's virgin halfpipe experience – and worked on riding the wall smoothly and consistently, staying below the vert.
After a well-earned lunch break, we left the resort and headed across the Center Village to the Woodward Barn. We set our skis and boots aside and warmed up by jumping on the trampolines. When Max was satisfied that no one was going to hurl his lunch, we worked on rotations and front flips to increase what's called "air sense." The Flybed tramps at Woodward are extra-springy, and Max topped 20 feet easily during his demonstrations. Next we practiced safe landing technique in the foam pits, and then used the tramps as launch pads for superman-style dive rolls into the pits.
The day ended on the Snowflex, a white AstroTurf-like material sprayed down with water for optimal glide. We put our gear back on and Max coached us over the boxes and rails of the jib run, and on the quarter pipe. All of us worked on keeping our head up, something that's easier to do in the controlled indoor environment, and will help us get to the next level at the terrain park. The grand finale was the jumps. At the base of a 35-foot Big Air drop-in are three jumps of graduating height, and just beyond, the largest, deepest foam pit in the Barn. Max's advice? "Point your skis down and just go for it, man." Words to live by. [$188.50, includes lunch, lift ticket, and GPS; woodwardatcopper.com]