Raised on Colorado: Copper Mountain Inside Scoop from Mike Looney, Director of Slopeside Maintenance and Snowmaking
TG: What drew you to Copper Mountain originally and what has kept you here?
ML: One of the guys who worked for me in my in my landscaping business back in Missouri moved to Copper for a couple of summers. I decided to come out and stay with him one summer and I never left. I built ski lifts for a couple of summers, then my boss offered me a year-round position. I knew this is what I wanted to do, so I decided to make it work.
TG: What are your 3 favorite things to do here at Copper Mountain in the winter?
• Snowmaking. I thrive in this environment and I love the challenge. Last year’s weather caused us to increase our snowmaking efforts and our team came together and kicked butt to make some great snow! The way we make snow is to take water out of the nearby streams and mix it with pressurized air and shoot it out at 20 degrees. I really love the exciting, scientific process of creating snow.
• Skiing, of course.
• Making sure it’s all going well every day here on the mountain. We’ve got lots of eyes on things here to make sure it’s safe and enjoyable on a daily basis.
TG: What are some inside secrets that people don’t know about Copper Mountain?
• Ski racing. Copper is one of the ski racing centers of the world and all the number one skiers come here to train and get ready for their racing season. If you ski the Super Bee lift, you might even get to see or run into some of them.
• We’ve got a lot of tree trails that allow people to ski beginner to intermediate levels and really get into the woods.
• Alliroo Alley Park. It’s under the American Flyer Chairlift (towers 25-29). It’s a place where kids can get a little more into nature and play in the trees. For some fun intermediate trails, head from American Flyer lift to the Moz trail and work your way into what we call the Mario Trees (after the Mario Brothers game) and explore some more.
TG: If you could only ski or ride one run at Copper Mountain which one would it be?
ML: The race venue runs. They consist of three different trails: Upper Andy’s Encore, Oh No and Rosie’s Run. They’ve got three different pitches and three different terrains with good variety and great steeps!
TG: What are your favorite après ski/dining experiences here at Copper?
ML: I love our Christmas and New Year’s night time events. We’ve also got some great parties and concerts over spring break. One of my favorite places to eat is Mahi Street Tacos. I love their fish and shrimp tacos and great SoCal offerings. Eagle BBQ is also great. Both are located at the base of the mountain in Burning Stones Plaza.
TG: What’s your idea of a fun family experience here at Copper?
ML: Our tubing hill in East Village. It’s one of the only tubing hills in the country with banked curves and it’s also safe for the little ones and exciting enough for the teenagers.
TG: What winter event do you look forward to each season?
ML: I love the Special Olympics that we host every year. This is our 29th season and it’s coming up on Sunday March 5th. It’s neat to see the kids and adults who normally don’t get a chance to ski, snowboard or snowshoe and just watch them out having a fun time. They don’t have to win, they just need to do their best.
TG: What do you think makes Copper Mountain so popular?
ML: The people and the small community atmosphere. Some folks have worked here for 30-40 years. It’s a family-style, home-grown atmosphere-- not like the crowded hustle and bustle of other resorts. We have shorter lift lines here and even on a busy day you can find a slope you love. Our down- to-earth approach is what makes our mountain appealing. We’ll give you a great family style adventure!