If you stepped foot inside of Fenway Park during February 11th or 12th you may have noticed something out of the ordinary. Was it the hotdogs or crackerjacks? Nope! Was the Green Monster missing? Not quite. Was it something on center field? Getting closer. Maybe the 760,000 pound, 140-foot scaffolding supporting the Polartec Big Air jump located center field? Ding ding ding!
The United States Ski and Snowboard Association officials revealed in mid 2015 that Fenway Park will be hosting one of three Grand Prix Big Air contests. The ramp was positioned center field and launched skiers and snowboards towards the landing situated near home plate. Some seats near the field were covered by the landing, but most seats, including monster seats, were open for ticketholders to view aerial stunts underneath the Fenway lights. The event was divided into two days. On the 11th, snowboarders went head to head 8:30PM-10PM. On the 12th, skiers competed 9PM-10:30PM. First place takes home the $150,000 prize. So how does the event work?
Fenway Big Air Broken Down:
Forty men and twenty women competed in the qualifying round. Each rider had two runs and the panel of judges determined who’s trick had the best execution and highest level of difficultly.
Big Name Skiers or Snowboarders at the Event?
Bobby Brown, Sage Kotensburg, Joss Christensen, and Jamie Anderson, a Vermont native, were attendees of the event. Kotensburg, Christensen, and Anderson are all Olympic gold medalist and are no strangers when it comes to throwing huge tricks. Although Brown doesn’t have an Olympic gold medal on his resume, he can still show you a thing or two about big air jumps. Brown received a perfect score in X Games 14 at the big air event.
The peak height of the scaffolding big air jump is 140 feet, almost four times the size of the Green Monster. The ramp begins over the centerfield scoreboard and this is where skiers and snowboarders will drop in for the first time during qualifying.
A 14-foot jump had been constructed at the bottom of the ramp. Skiers and snowboarder’s blastoff the lip of the jump at 40 miles an hour to clear the 70-foot gap that separates the jump and the landing. Confident skiers will approach the jump backwards, or as said in ski lingo, switch.
The objective is to make your landing look clean and effortless. Landing execution makes up a large portion of how judges will grade the snowboarders and skier’s overall runs. With $150,000 dollars on the line, these riders have quite an incentive to land their trick smoothly.
Last time I checked there aren’t any chairlifts at Fenway Park. Skiers and snowboarders participating in the event took an elevator ride to the top of the big air jump. Without this elevator, the riders would have to tow their skis and snowboards up 14 flights of stairs. Not my idea of a fun time.
Overall, the event was giant homerun! Just over 26,000 people showed up to show their support for the snowboarders and skiers. The finalist for women were Lisa Zimmerman in 1st, Emma Dahlstrom in 2nd, and Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen in 3rd. For men it was Vincent Gagnier in 1st, Andri Ragetti in 2nd, and Jonas Hunziker in 2nd.