Gravity is an inevitable force that we all must face. Athletes in the world of freestyle skiing and snowboarding constantly battle this force. These athletes continue to push their sport and the apex of their airtime. The freeskiing, snowboarding, and freestyle community have evolved around the cliché phrase of “go big or go home”. With this evolution comes the progression of the technology around the sport. Just four years ago Woodward at Copper led the way for numerous athletes in the area to begin training in a revolutionary way. The Woodward Facility features Olympic Trampolines and foam pits to practice tricks. Athletes come from all regions to train. Now other facilities are popping up, including the brand new Acrobatic Center on the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy Campus. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) is incredibly excited to now have an acrobatic facility on their campus that they can call their own.
A ribbon cutting and an official opening to the new Acrobatic Center happened this past Sunday at the Campus. SSCV alumna and U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Member Heidi Kloser and 5 time X-Games Gold Medalist and US Freesking Team Member Jen Hudak cut the ribbon marking a transition stage for SSCV. “I really wish this facility was around when I went to school here,” remarked Kloser. This new edition to the campus will allow athletes to train in a safer environment for the sports they love. Flipping through the air and landing in a pool of foam blocks is certainly much safer than going out on the slopes and trying a trick for the first time.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) Freeski Coach Peter O’Brien provided a bit of input as to why this new facility is so ground breaking, “What is really unique about the Acro Center is that it is located inside the school. The school is so focused on sports as well as education and this is just another big step for these athletes to have. It is going to be incredibly convenient to use and will ultimately save us time and money. We’re not driving over to Woodward, we’re not using Vail Gymnastics, and it’s all right here which will provide a nice safe training area.” O’Brien worked at Woodward for years and was able to provide logistical insight for SSCV’s Acrobatic Center.
The facility took time and money to build with help from generous donors and cooperation from the school district. The 90 thousand dollar facility has been in many minds since the opening of the school. SSCV Executive Director Aldo Radamus and Freeski Program Director Elana Chase had the vision to build this facility the first time they walked into the room when the school opened in 2007. “I started lobbying for this room to be built two years ago. We all knew that the shape of it, the natural light, the high ceilings, and its quiet nature, would work perfectly for a trampoline room. It really is too perfect of a room for a facility like this. When I first saw this room, I envisioned it exactly the way it is in here now,” says Chase.
SSCV worked in cooperation with contractors, the school district, and building inspectors to safely set up the facility. “In order to make the facility safe we installed carpet bonded foam that is 12 feet tall on the walls, put up netting above key points around the trampolines, and built a 10 inch thick foam padding barrier. We also have two big throw pads that we use. When you are trying a trick for the first time it is important to get these pads under the kids,” says O’Brien.
Numerous inspections had to be made as well as tweaks and adjustments to ensure the safety of the kids. “We really had to work as a big team to make everything come together. Our team consisted of the school system, the fundraising team, the coaches, and everyone who put in the hard work to make this happen. All the entities came together and now we have an amazing room where athletes can learn in a safe environment,” says Chase.
As it stands now the facility will remain as a private training facility through the winter. However, plans are in the works for SSCV to host public training camps during the summer. “If we do have summer camps, they will be for younger athletes that are aspiring to be an athlete in the sport. All of the training that we will have here will be a little more focused. I love to see this sport continue to grow and the more people that our organization can help encourage the better. That being said, at this time the facility is primarily geared to the athletes that are currently in our program,” says Chase.
As tricks become continually more technical we will begin to see improvements in the tools needed, on and off the mountain, to safely practice these tricks.