Copper Peak officials hold information session
IRONWOOD, MI (October 29, 2015) — It was a packed house at Gogebic Community College Wednesday as Copper Peak officials provided more details regarding plans to bring ski flying back to the Gogebic Range.
Copper Peak Organizing Committee Chair Bob Jacquart began the presentation by telling the audience that there was still work to be done and money that needs to be raised.
“I need you to know that we have a large task ahead of fundraising a lot of dollars,” Jacquart said, saying any connections attendees had that could help the project would be greatly appreciated.
He then detailed his attempts to secure international competitive events at Copper Peak and the progress that has been made in recent years.
There have only been two world cup ski-jumping events in North America in the last 15 years, Jacquart said, despite the sport being the most-watched TV sport in Europe during winter.
The Federation of International Skiing, the body that governs the sport, has decided to make an effort to bring the popularity of the sport to America, Jacquart said.
As part of the effort to bring the sport to America, Jacquart presented the case for competitions at Copper Peak to a FIS meeting in Zurich, Switzerland in October.
He said he had three basic objectives at the meeting; which were to have Copper Peak become the only ski flying hill in the world with an artificial surface — meaning the only one capable of being used in summer, getting the Grand Finale of the Summer Grand Prix — the final event where the world champion is crowned — to be held at Copper Peak and to acquire favorable TV rights for any competitions taking place at the facility.
The grand finale would take place in September 2017.
Jacquart said he left Zurich having exceeded his expectations. He not only secure all three of his objectives, including acquiring 100 percent of the television rights, he also got a pledge for the potential to host two other competitions in the summer. One of the additional competitions could be a Continental Cup competition — which Jacquart described as the “B team” of competitive ski jumping — as well as a nordic combined competition featuring roughly 18 countries in attendance.
“What I felt was that the world ski jumping (community) wants it here really bad,” Jacquart said, “there’s no jealousy … there’s really a lot of support.”
Jacquart then discussed the potential benefits for the area that competitions could bring.
He said that once the event is officially added to the competition schedule in April, assuming the group’s fundraising goals are met, area hotels could expect reservations a year and a half before the competitions.
In addition to the revenue brought in by spectators to the competitions, the area would also become one of the training sights for the USA Nordic team, which is a combination of the nordic combined and ski jumping teams.
The area is better suited for the team’s training than its current facility, Jacquart said, due to the similarity in altitude between the Ironwood area and the parts of Europe where competitions are held.
Training at Copper Peak would also give the team a “home-field advantage,” Jacquart said, adding he is working with several universities in the region to help provide improved equipment to the underfunded team.
“Not only do we have the opportunity to help our community, and help our state, and help the region of northern Wisconsin and upper Michigan, we have an opportunity to help the US team,” Jacquart said.
If the money to fund renovations is raised, Jacquart said, construction at the site would likely begin once snow melts in the spring.
Jacquart’s presentation was followed by Torgeir Nordby and John Heilig, two consultants with Olympic -level experience, who are working to prepare Copper Peak for competitions.
Both said while work needed to be done to bring Copper Peak up to modern competitive standards, it was certainly an achievable goal.
“Our real goal here, this week, was to come and look for (big problems), is there some reason that we can’t make this project happen,” Heilig told the Daily Globe. “…We didn’t find anything like that. Actually, we were somewhat pleasantly surprised at the state of the hill, the modifications required. But it’s still not an easy project, this is a hill that hasn’t been used for some time, but it’s actually within the realm of what we imagined.”
The last time competitions were held at Copper Peak was approximately 1994, according to information at the meeting.
Reprinted with permission from the Ironwood Daily Globe, 10/29/2015