Not your typical summer job
While many young Parkites are busing tables or lifeguarding at local pools, Austin Cummings and Dylan Ferguson are launching 50 feet into the air making the crowds scream at the Utah Olympic Park. Every summer, the water-ramp shows are among the popular summer attractions at the Utah Olympic Park. While spectators pour in see the breathtaking show, Cummings and Ferguson are clocking in at their typical day at work.
"We get to have fun and show off to the crowd." Clocking up to 30 mph, the athletes launch off of a 14-foot jump springing 50-60 feet above the water. The shows last 20-25 minutes in which 8-12 athletes perform a series of jumps, "we try to put a lot of people in the air," says Cummings.
The Flying Productions, the company behind the show, is comprised of a wide range of athletes including coaches, snowboarders, U.S. team mogul skiers and U.S. team aerialists.
"We are lucky to live in P.C. where there is such a high caliber of jumpers that perform in the shows," says Cummings. The production company creates a win-win situation for the athletes because it provides the necessary training time and some essential income to help pursue the sport.
When plunging into 50-degree water, the athletes wear a wetsuit for warmth, and then a dry suit on top to try and keep out the moisture.
"The skis are the same skis we use for snow, but reinforced with fiberglass to make them stronger," says Cummings, "it is important to be wearing similar stuff that you wear in the winter cause you want to feel the same as you do when you compete."
Ferguson, who is 21, is a competitive aerial skier for the U.S. team and has been performing in the water ramp shows for four years.
Ferguson describes the shows as a "competition simulation" because they help the athletes get comfortable, "practicing the tricks that we work on for competition in front of a crowd."
Cummings has been an aerial skier for 11 years and no longer competes. For the past 8 years, he has been part of Flying Ace Productions during the summer months. He says the production company "is awesome because you are not only getting good training, but it gives you a steady summer job." With 8-12 athletes in the shows, Cummings adds he is "among good friends."
"I try to stay in good relationships with the other jumpers, it’s important to not have any grudges when someone could land on you."
With the combination of high speeds, huge air, and a freezing pool; Cummings explains, "it can be extremely dangerous for the inexperienced." He is fortunate to have never been injured during a show, but Ferguson hasn’t been as lucky. "In my first show, I was doing a Cork 10 (3 full spins inverted) to my side and I slashed my face and got knocked out. My teammates jumped into the pool and saved me."
Cummings said some unexpected perks include performing on the Today Show, Ellen Degeneres, and on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Overall, the "friendships and relationships with the spectators" have been reason enough for Cummings to fly high for the crowd.
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