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The new era of Big Air

The new era of Big Air

Posted by Simon Tjernström

2020-01-16 15:09

Right before Christmas, the world got a chance to lay eyes on a magnificent construction. It was the big air world cup in China and the first time competition was held on the permanent big air ramp built for hosting the 2022 Olympics.

Beijing 2022.jpgThis latest piece of innovation in snowsports infrastructure is 60 meters high and 164 meters long. The Shougang ski ramp in a former industrial park in west Beijing got all the bells and whistles you could dream off. Elevators, an in-house snowmaking system, stadium seating for 6,000 but more importantly - the dimensions scaffolding big air long lacked.

An Olympic event is one of the top places to exhibit your nation’s innovative capabilities and resources.

With trade wars with fellow superpower USA one can not help to look back at the days of the cold war between USA and the Sovjet Union where the two spend all energy on trying to out due one another.

An Olympic event is one of the top places to exhibit your nation’s innovative capabilities and resources.

A few weeks ago the first competition was held on the concrete monster and the superlatives from the competitors were as positive as unanimous.

China ramp 2.jpg

Best big air arena ever


The sportive advantages are a major step forward from the not-so-distant days of hand-shoveled inruns and landings. Plenty of speed with a wide, well-groomed inrun and landing with a big table easy to customize in terms of size. The ramp is built with a snowcat in mind. A snowcat can groom the entire riding surface which in combination with the snowmaking system mentioned above making this a giant leap for the giant leapers in terms of quality.

“The jump is by far the best city Big Air I’ve ever hit"

“The jump is by far the best city Big Air I’ve ever hit", says Finn Bilous, a member of New Zealand’s national freeski squad. “With slushy spring-like conditions and fast shuttle laps in luxury e-cars, we definitely felt a bit spoiled.”

“I think it’s the best city big air ever, and the best big air in a World Cup ever too,” says Paul Vieuxtemps, who skis on the World Cup circuit for Thailand (yes Thailand, you read that right). “It’s a very steep kicker and landing, you can chill in the inrun and do a big carve, you can do tricks on the knuckle too. It doesn’t look like a scaffolding jump, it looks like a prime park kicker.”

CHina ramp 3.jpeg

“We have finally arrived culturally”


The CEO of action-sports company Schneestern Dirk Scheumann have been a technical consultant on the Shougang jump. In his own words this is a major breakthrough. “I see this as a major milestone for the sport,” he says. “Now that we have permanent stadiums, we’re on eye level with ski jumping, bobsled and so on. After twenty years of freestyle and freesking, for me it means that we’ve finally arrived culturally.”

“I see this as a major milestone for the sport”

Dirk continues. “With this ramp, we started by asking ourselves how big of a jump we’d want to build in the future.” The Shougang jump can accommodate a kicker with a table of up to 27 meters, Scheumann says. For the world cup hosted mid-December the kicker size was measured at a more comfortable 20-meter distance.

The other side of the coin


With the growing protest movement in Hong Kong, environmentalism, the Olympic debate, the oppression of Uyghurs and Chinas general lack of human rights it is easy to take a shot at this construction as a small pawn in the big world of politics (read: economy).

But hey, this isn’t The New Yorker you are reading and I’m not a bald guy in a suit. So let’s just look at the fact. Park skiing has smashed the door open to the world of accepted sports.

Park skiing has smashed the door open to the world of accepted sports.

They did so by demolishing the TV viewing stats from the Sochi Olympics with a little help from snowboarding. They did so with the Olympic organization’s desperate need to make their product attractive to a younger audience.

Will the ski ramp be a forgotten monument over past times in 20 years? Maybe. But right now the world of organized sports is sucking up to the newest way of having fun on a pair of skis.

The 2022 Beijing Olympics starts the 4th of Febrary 2022. The Ski Big Air will use the same format of competition as the X Games where scores are thrown out faster giving the riders a bunch of chanses during a 30-40-45 minute session.
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