USSA jumps forward with new project
A new era of summer training began at the Utah Olympic Park last summer with the opening of the Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool.
The new and improved water-ramp facility will continue to benefit freestyle athletes while also helping freeskiing and snowboarding athletes train during the non-winter months.
This summer, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) is turning its attention toward another phase of training. A new initiative, Project JUMP, is currently in the design and feasibility stages, with fundraising scheduled to take place throughout the next 12 months.
Project JUMP will be a new training facility for snowboarders and freeskiers. Two jumps (one large and one medium) will be built with an artificial in-run and will launch jumpers into an inclined airbag. Next to the artificial jumps will be two snow jumps (one large and one medium).
U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing Director Jeremy Forster said Project JUMP will benefit athletes of all ages and ability levels.
“We feel like its a safer way to train, particularly for the snowboard athletes,” he said. “It will also allow for a significant amount of training volume to take place here locally. We feel like it can impact performance at an elite level and a development level so that all the clubs around the country can come and use this facility from a training standpoint.”
The goal, Forster said, is to have the jumps built and airbag ready for training beginning in June 2017. The point of the inclined airbag, he added, is to be able to closely replicate the feeling of landing a jump on snow.
“Typically the airbags have been flat airbags that you land into,” he said. “The advantage of the inclined airbag on a landing hill is that you can simulate landing and then you just slide away safely into the bottom of the airbag. Then, you can take it right to snow.”
An eye toward 2018
With the jumps and airbag in place, Forster said U.S. athletes have opportunities to work on new tricks ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“We feel like the elite athletes on the pro team and the rookie team will get an immediate benefit from it,” he said. “Our hope is that, as soon as it opens in the summer of 2017, it’ll have an impact on performance leading into Korea in 2018.”
USSA officials anticipate the new jumps will help athletes train for 18 potential medals at the 2018 Olympics and 24 medals at the 2022 Olympics (when big air skiing is potentially added to the schedule).
Jana Dalton, the major gift officer for the USSA, said the Utah Olympic Park has been highly supportive of the new project.
“This project complements whats already at the Utah Olympic Park and what we did last year with the Spence Eccles Pool,” she said. “It’s part of the progression. We work closely with Colin Hilton and Jennifer Littman over there. They’re great partners in supporting everything we do and initiatives we want to undertake. They’ve been fully supportive of this project and they’re going to help with the fundraising.”
“They clearly understand our training needs,” Forster added. “They’re the perfect partner for us to work with on this. Team Park City United will be one of the largest users of this facility and they’ve been a huge part of this initial phase, too.”
Putting the plan in action
To design the jumps, Forster said the USSA brought in one of the industry leaders in snow construction projects.
“We’re working with Snow Park Technologies, who are the leader in on-snow construction of parks,” he said. “They build the X Games and Dew Tour venues. We’re working with them on the design and cost analysis. Our hope is to have the money raised and the project built and open by June of next year. We’re working with the UOP and we’re optimistic we’ll be able to start moving dirt this fall.”
To help raise money for the project, which is expected to cost $500,000, Dalton said the USSA Foundation will have a special ski pass sale.
“We allocated 10 Gold Passes, which is an exclusive pass that’s valid at 250 resorts across the country,” she said. “It’s a $10,000 donation to purchase a pass and $9,000 of that will go toward Project JUMP. That way, not only are you supporting the project, you’re getting this amazing exclusive pass.”
Dalton added that there will be additional fundraising activities around the Park City area. She said the finished project will be a great local attraction.
“We really want to get the community involved as well,” she said. “This is going to be a cool spectating thing to go up and watch. The location of it is perfect. It’s right in front of the building, so it’s like the best location in the park in terms of viewing. People can go up there and watch these athletes train and have a great viewing spot.”
To donate to Project JUMP, visit the RallyMe page at ussa.rallyme.com/rallies/4236/projectjump. To view the full design, go to snowparktech.egnyte.com/dl/oOUPm2aUeu.
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