The Ever-GROWING NUMBER OF FREESTYLE DRY-SLOPE CENTRES WORLDWIDE
Year-round freestyle ski centres with jumps at the bottom of the run are getting more and more common, some countries now having more than one.
These facilities allow freestyle skiers and boarders to practice their tricks in the air whatever the weather, landing either in a pool of water (sometimes even a river) or on to a big air bag.
Of course for the centres with jumps hitting deep water, maybe at an uncomfortable angle, wearing skis and ski boots or a snowboard on your feet which aren’t conducive to skiing isn’t for everyone. Jumpers normally wear a life jacket, helmet, wet suit and there are people in boats and/or swimming in diving gear ready to help out.
“It’s scary and fast, wet, of course, and cold. It, however, is not complicated,” said one reviewer, adding, “It’s a really weird feeling under your feet. My best advice, just point them straight, right at the jump, and let them go.”
Most are intended to enable top athletes to train to World Cup and Winter Olympic level, but most also have smaller ramps to help people just getting in to the sport.
Some are designed not just for skiers and snowboarders but also for athletes in disciplines like BMX biking to train too.
Here are some of the centres now open around the world.
Olympic Winter Training Centre (Brisbane, opened 2021)
This freestyle ski-jumping facility featuring a 37-metre-high run in ramp to allow snowsports athletes to reach maximum speeds of over 70 kilometres an hour and launch up to 17 metres in the air to practise their aerial manoeuvres before landing in a swimming pool opened in 2021. The jump, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, is part of a wider Olympic Winter Training Centre and was built at a reported cost of $6m (AUS).
Banger Park (Scharnitz, surface: JF DrySki)
Located close to Innsbruck, Banger Park comprises a JF dry ski surface in run launching on to a slope-hugging BigAir bag. The park also has a trampolining area.
Hohenhems (Vorarlberg, opened 2020, surface: WaterTRax by Skitrax)
A water training jump for freestylers with the landing in a river. A choice of three ramps, one with a choice of departure points. The ramps use a total of 200sqm of WaterTrax sliding mats and the two large kickers offer inclines of up to 40 degrees.
Kattevennen (Genk, Opened 2020 – 2021)
A major €3m re-make of a former dry slope that once occupied the site but closed around 2010, the new facility was announced in 2017 but has taken some years to come to fruition. The small jump 20 metres high, seven metres wide and 40 metres long opened in 2020 but the bigger jump with a 40 metre long ramp at a 30 ° pitch to a height of 35 metres opened in 2021. The ‘kicker’ on the jump is adjustable so that every ‘Big Air jump’ in the world can be simulated. The big air cushion for landing has a huge surface area of 1300 square metres. The centre has been designed so that freestyle BMXers can also use it.
The famous Canadian ski resort and 2010 Winter Olympics host Whistler is home to a Freestyle Centre where there are three water jumps of varying sizes for freestyle skiers and boarders to practice on. The Water Ramps generally operate throughout July and August when the pool is warm and the sun is out. They’re designed primarily for athletes who will work with coaches on the fundamentals of jumping after warming up oat the trampoline centre. The facility is located at Base 2 on Blackcomb Mountain. There are 3 jumps to choose from: Jump 4 is the beginner jump, Jump 1 is the “singles” jump (for single inverts) and Jump 2 is the “doubles” jump (for athletes going around twice in the air).
Olympic Forest Park (Beijing, opened 2017, surface: JF DrySki)
Opened on 10th September 2017 and claiming to be one of the largest in Asia, with 20,000 square metres of dry slope matting. Recognised by the FIS and BASI.
Changchun Extreme Ski Park (Jilin, opened 2017, surface: JF DrySki)
A major facility which features two ramp jumps on to a big air bag and a main ski slope.
One of the original freestyle jumps, operating in summer (under snow in winter). It is monitored by Henry Authier, freestyle ski former champion, a specialist in acrobatics, and the inventor of Hot-Jumping. “You can trust him!” says a Tignes statement. Acroland, revamped in 2021, offers 3 levels with for each of them the possibility of choosing between a simple slide on the toboggan or adding a jump down the slope! 6m, 9m, 12m jumps, good swimmers over 10 years old only.
Japan, Murata Tohoku Quest (Murata, opened 2014)
The centre is owned by Takashi Nishida, a former Olympic snowboarder.
Allpro Freestyle Snowboard and Ski Park (Moscow, opened 2021, surface: JF DrySki)
Used for training and practicing during summer when there is no snow, skiers and boarders report the surface is actually preferable to the real snow slope there in winter as it overcomes the “disadvantage” that the real snow is either too soft or too hard and tends to freeze or melt to easily making it hard for constant training.
Jisan Forest Resort (opened 2021, surface: JF DrySki)
A new freestyle jump at an existing ski resort, it uses 300sqm of JF DrySki surface for the run-in.
Kläppen Ski Resort (Transtrand, opened 2021, surface: JF DrySki)
Completed in August, 2021 with a slope area of 770㎡ at the existing ski area of Kläppen.
Bald Eagle Lake (Steamboat Springs, Colorado, opened 2001)
There are six jumps built into the Bald Eagle Lake complex at Steamboat Springs, known for delivering more winter Olympians to the US ski teams than any other town. The largest replicates the most gentle of the jumps used in the winter for aerials. Another simulates the kick a skier gets from one of the two jumps built into a competition moguls course.
Bristol Mountain (New York State, opened 2021 at the existing ski area of Bristol Mountain, surface: Skitrax)
Bristol Mountain, located a little south of Lake Ontario and the Canadian border, has installed a freestyle jump with artificial slope surface for summer use. Primarily designed for freestylers and slopestylers, the facility uses approximately 230 m2 of Watertrax sliding mats from German-based supplier Skitrax. The slope in white and red material is about 12 metres (40 feet) high, with an approach of 30m (100 feet) to the jump table and extending from about 5 metres (17 feet) directly into the water of the mountain lake.
Utah Olympic Park (Park City, USA)
A multi-jump facility and legacy of the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City located in Park City, home to the largest ski area in the US. with skiers landing in a pool. The centre is home to the Flying Aces, a team of freestyle ski jumpers that put on aerial ski shows on weekends throughout the summer where they jump up to 60 feet in the air while performing aerial tricks. Many of the Flying Aces team members are nationally ranked skiers, and there are even some former Olympic medalists as well.
Some freestyle centres have already come and gone. There was a short-lived facility near Bratislavia in Slovakia which opened in 2015.