Summer skiing: Yukon freestyle jumpers build all-weather ramp

A new freestyle ski ramp in Whitehorse is being called unique in Canada. When construction is completed a few weeks from now, acrobatic skiiers will be able to zoom down a plastic surface and launch themselves onto a giant airbag.

Futuristic ski surface, giant airbag landing pad the first of its kind in Canada

Would you take the plunge? A new ramp at Mount Sima outside of Whitehorse will allow skiers and snowboarders to practice jumps under the midnight sun. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Yukon's freestyle ski and snowboard jumpers will soon be able to practice under the midnight sun.

Workers at Mount Sima are hammering Rebar and assembling pressure-treated 2x6 boards to create a freestyle jumping ramp that could be ready by the end of July. 

Neveplast, an Italian technology, has been used the United Arab Emirates and Argentina, but never before in Canada. (Philippe Morin/CBC)
The ramp will be covered in a plastic called Neveplast. The Italian technology has been used the United Arab Emirates and Argentina to allow summertime ski runs. 

"It's the first one in Canada so it's pretty exciting," says Yukon Freestyle Ski Association President Lynda Harlow.

The ramp is also unique in that jumpers will land on a giant airbag, similar to what's used in Hollywood stunts. Other summer ski ramps in Canada have athletes land in water.

"It will be really neat to see the rest of Canada come up and check this out," Harlow says.

'A big challenge' to build

Contractor Christian Vetterlein hammers at rebar to strengthen the ramp. 'I just think it's a real cool thing to build.' (Philippe Morin/CBC)
Christian Vetterlein is a contractor who has been building the ramp with help from volunteers.

He says he looked to Alberta for inspiration on how to arrange the lumber.

"I used a similar design of what's being used in the oil fields," he says, citing panels uses to build temporary roads in muskeg or swamps. "We adapted the system and make it a little bit lighter to get a slope," he says.

Vetterlein says professional surveyors reviewed the site, and an excavator was used to get the right angle.

'It's the first one in Canada so it's pretty exciting,' says Yukon Freestyle Ski Association President Lynda Harlow. (Philippe Morin/CBC)
"I personally ended up using string line and a water level just like the Romans did 2,000 years ago," he adds, with pride. "It's been a good piece of labour. Lots of pick-axing and gravel buckets went into this."

Vetterlein says he'll be testing the ramp with weights before the first jumper takes the leap.   

"I am hoping that a lot of generations of athletes are going to have the opportunity to train... freestyle jumping on this facility."

$157,000 project

The project is worth about $157,000, with most funding provided by Yukon Government's Community Development Fund and Lotteries Yukon. The Yukon Freestyle Ski Association will own the ramp which will also be used in winter.

About 40 to 50 people are involved in the association.

Freestyle acrobatic skiing has been a Winter Olympic sport since 1992.


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