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Ski flying set to return to Copper Peak near Ironwood

After an absence of 20 years, ski flying is set to return to Copper Peak near Ironwood next winter.

Officials from USA Ski Jumping and Copper Peak announced last week that an exhibition ski flying event is set to take place at the Upper Peninsula hill from Feb. 28-March 2, 2014.

Ski flying is similar to ski jumping, but takes place on larger hills that allow for longer jumps. Copper Peak is only ski flying hill in the Western Hemisphere.

"It's been a long time coming," Copper Peak's Bryan Sanders, a 1992 U.S. ski jumping Olympian, said of next winter's exhibition in a news release. "We've had massive debt to retire since the last event in 1994, and the venue has seen huge improvements that are bringing this historic ski jump back to FIS standards. (We've) improved the chairlifts, the elevator, the drainage on the hill, and have recontoured the landing hill with over 2,000 tons of dirt. This summer we are installing our new snowmaking facilities and the takeoff has been lowered. ... I think it will be a very safe and really exciting hill, that's coming back to life."

About a dozen jumpers are expected for the exhibition event, mostly from the U.S. and Canada -- though invitations will be extended to athletes from other nations, officials said.

Copper Peak was built in 1969 and opened in 1970. It hosted a World Cup ski flying competition in 1981. The hill is located about 10 miles northeast of Ironwood and also is open in summer, when visitors can venture to the top of the jump to enjoy the view.

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