|PARK CITY, UT (May 26) – Having an X Games skate park set up in the backyard is a dream for most. But dreams are a reality for U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding athletes who have a skate and trampoline area on which to train in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s new Center of Excellence. The ramps and tramps area is a unique training venue for athletes.|
The competitors will have free reign of the area, which features a roller pump track complete with bank turn, a kicker into the foam pit, a ski cross and snowboardcross start gate, a skate bowl, and two Olympic regulation trampolines.
“What we have is a unique facility that is completely tailored to meet our athletes’ needs,” U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Coach Ricky Bower said. “I think it’s going to really help progress basic skills for our riders for the future. No other countries have anything like what we have.”
The Center was built with the trampoline area as a starting point. The amount of air generation needed to train on the tramps was used as a reverence for how tall the building needed to be and everything was added on from that point.
“It’s a huge benefit to have the trampolines. The biggest downfall we’ve had is not having a decent gym set up. We could go to a gymnastics gym, but the set ups are pay to use. There are also trampolines at the sports park, but it can get windy being outdoors. But now we have the best trampolines in the world, which were handmade in Toronto,” U.S. Aerials Head Coach Matt Christensen said. “We’re stoked. We’ve been bouncing at the Center of Excellence every day. This is awesome not only for our top athletes, but for the athletes coming up. They’re learning their skills in a more efficient way on the tramp.”
The area is comprised of a modular scaffolding base understructure and a wood decking system, which provided areas for the trampolines to be installed and also includes the wooden bowl that’s stick framed. Everything is topped with a material made out of plastic and synthetic resin to provide athletes using skateboards or inline skates a smooth and durable surface on which they can generate speed.
“It’s really interesting because it’s a permanent installation, so we’re able to make everything dead on. We can spend a lot more time really dialing in the details of this type of facility,” said Jon Mammele, who supervised the construction for Murphy Productions project manager for the Center. “This is a lot more rewarding because you get to focus on the details. It’s the most fun project I’ve worked on in the past two years.”
The area will allow athletes to work on new maneuvers, as well as build speed and strength together. There is also an added benefit for alpine athletes as they will use straight jump to simulate jumps encountered during downhill runs.
“The pump track is great for fitness and simulation of the kind of movements that ski and snowboardcross athletes use,” U.S. Snowboarding Head Coach Peter Foley said. “The foam pit allows the athletes to try tricks that we would normally have to try out on snow without getting hurt. Having a start gate to practice with means we can get a huge volume of practice time in on starting. Not only from a fitness standpoint, but also a skills and coordination standpoint we have an area to develop things that we wouldn’t otherwise.”
In their training, the snowboarders will use skateboards and skiers will use inline skates to simulate their on-snow movements throughout the installment’s features.
“It’s all complimentary. If you’re able to train in a bowl on wheels you really go through a lot of the fundamentally similar motions that you would on snow,” Mammele said.
Athletes will also be able to train air packages on the Olympic trampolines in order to eventually transfer their moves to the snow.
“Until now there has been a limited amount of acrobatic work they can do, but on a trampoline we can dramatically increase the amount of acrobatic time. The philosophy is that we can fix things and perfect things on the trampoline and then carry them over to the water ramps and then to snow. The trampolines are the really crucial part of the acrobatic training,” U.S. Freestyle Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen said. “It will be really great for us to have our own area to train.”
According to Bower, a former U.S. Snowboarding rider who won gold in halfpipe at the 1999 World Championships, having the ramps and tramps in the Center will only allow for improvement for the athletes who are now able to use it consistently.
“The concept is following the basic model of a Woodward skate and gymnastic camp that we used to go to when I was on the team. To be able to have similar facilities right in our training center is going to be a huge benefit,” Bower said.
The skate and trampoline area was under physical construction since mid-March and is now in use by the athletes.