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Half-pipe attracts Olympic Teams to Michigan

If you think to ride in the tracks of Olympians this year you must dig your passport out of hiding and catch a plane, train, or automobile to the west your wrong. In fact, several Olympic snowboard teams spent their pre-Olympic training days just three hours north of Grand Rapids.

Torchbearer Tyler MacRae snowboards down the halfpipe with the Olympic flame
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)

The Otsego Club in Gaylord, MI, a ski club catering mostly to Southern Michigan skiers, has invested $100,000 in an Olympic size half-pipe for the 2009-2010 ski season. The investment paid off as snowboard teams from Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Japan, and Canada spent time in Gaylord training for their Olympic events.


Why did these teams choose Michigan as their training grounds when there are bigger mountains closer to Vancouver? Snow. Snowstorms in the Yosemite area produced so much snow that the teams planning to train at Mammoth Mountain, California had to find a new venue. Having heard from the New Zealand team that a place called Michigan had an Olympic half-pipe the German team decided to go there instead of California. Word quickly spread and teams from around the world made their way to Gaylord.


A big advantage of training at the country’s only private ski resort is the on slope accommodations. Riders can stay on the hill and have privacy in the area as well as the convenience and efficiency of sleeping and eating on the hill. This is a big difference from big resorts where teams have to take shuttles to the mountain.

It is not yet known whether the Otsego Club will invest in another half-pipe next year so if you would like to ski or ride Olympic sized terrain this Winter it may be wise to do so this season. The Otsego Club is open to the public from 12:00pm until 9:00pm on weekdays.

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