As Winter X Games Aspen 2012 inches closer, athletes are getting ready any way they can. That means spending more time in the gym or on trampolines and more time in the park and pipe fine-tuning their tricks.
Colorado-based athletes have flocked to the park at Breckenridge and the halfpipe at Copper Mountain, where they can also head to Woodward-at-Copper, the 19,400-square-foot training facility that's become a staple early-season stop for many pros looking to build on air awareness.
Says U.S. snowboard halfpipe team member Maddy Schaffrick, "Even if you're not working on the same trick on the trampoline as you are on snow, throwing yourself up in the air while moving your body in different directions helps your brain with muscle memory and knowing where everything is at all times."
Ashley Battersby, a member of the newly-formed U.S. ski slopestyle team, also spends time training at Woodward. "Woodward has everything for actually learning tricks," says Battersby. "I won't do anything on snow before doing it there."
Skier Gus Kenworthy, who recently placed fourth in both slopestyle and superpipe at the Breckenridge Dew Tour, sees indoor facilities as a way to push progression. "Using tramps really helps, especially when working on weird or unnatural-feeling tricks that might mess with your head a bit on snow," says Kenworthy. "Also, just being in the gym and bouncing on the tramps and stretching encourages you to be in better shape, and the better shape you're in eventually helps to push the sport."
Snowboarder Spencer O'Brien, who won the recent Dew Tour slopestyle event, trains in Colorado early season and has utilized Woodward at Copper the past couple of years. "It really helps me get a feel for the tricks -- where your body is supposed to be in the air," she says.
Superpipe slayer Kelly Clark is no stranger to progression, but she knows that it can often come at a price. "Progression is a good thing but it's not always a safe thing," Clark says. "It's good to have a facility like Woodward that makes the progression safer for everyone."