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      Community looks to reopen iconic ski flying hill

      I t's a man-made structure that stands 24 stories tall and sits in the wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

      I t's a man-made structure that stands 24 stories tall and sits in the wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

      T he ski-flying hill Copper Peak has sat dormant for two decades. But now a dedicated group of locals are working to re-open this iconic structure.

      T he large steel beams reflect the passing of an industry and the growth of giant.

      C opper peak is one of the world's largest ski jumps, standing 24 stories tall and boasting a slope of 469 feet.

      "I t's the only design of its type in the World it really makes this really, really special," Charles Supercynski, Copper Peak Board of Directors President said.

      T his structure started as an idea back in 1935 , in the small mining town of Ironwood. A group of local skiers had the dream of flying higher and farther than anyone in the world.

      "M an's quest is always t o jump higher , run faster , and climb the highest mountain type of thing," Supercynski said. "I think that's the same spirit that inspired this group of what I call impoverished ski jumpers."

      M ore than 30 years went by , then the iron industry left town and the Copper Peak project became important again for a different reason.

      "W hen this project came along , it became extremely important because community leaders felt that this would be an important cog in developing a tourist industry ," Supercynski said.

      T his community had something to prove and they did so by raising more than a million dollars and spending countless hours constructing this man-made marvel.

      I n 1970 , they held their first international ski flying competition and became a staple on the worldwide circuit for the next two decades.

      O ne of those racers was Ironwood local, Johnny Kusz.

      "I was a little nervous thinking about it , that this was the one ride I was dreaming about taking and this is what I was going to do," Kusz said.

      S k i flying isn't something you can learn overnight , it takes years of training and expertise.

      T he pros fly at speeds around 70 miles per hour and travel the length of two football fields.

      "Y ou just take off and throw your shoulders into the air and you just feel beautiful it's real super fast then slow-motion if you do it right," Kusz explained.

      T he glory days ended in 1994 , when Copper Peak was closed because of money problems.

      N ow 20 years later , a group of dedicated locals are trying to revive this iconic structure.

      "I f we can get this thing going like we 'd like to get it going , we hope it can be not only important to the sport of ski flying , but it can be at important to the economic base of this area ," Supercynski said.

      B ut it might be a few more years until Copper Peak is fully restored for competition.

      "W e got a little bit more work to do to get a final approval and then we're prepared to go full steam ahead ," Supercynski said.

      O ver the last decade they have made countless improvements and spent thousands of dollars to bring this ski jump up to international standards to bring competition back to Michigan.

      "I t's just too good of a thing for us to lose and I just want to see people stay behind this thing and help and be so good for the whole community if it would go," Kusz said.

      W hen this project is complete , organizers plan on inviting the U.S. Olympic ski flying team to practice on their hill.

      C opper Peak is only one of 6 ski flying hills constructed in the world. The other five are all built in Europe.