Nova Scotia·Photos

Ski Wentworth getting year-round freestyle ski jump

A group of families has formed a non-profit association and is building two freestyle ski jumps that will use a giant airbag to cushion landings in the off season.

Plastic sliding surface won't require snow for practice runs

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      A group of families in Nova Scotia is building two freestyle ski jumps at Ski Wentworth to create a year-round training area for freestyle skiing.

      Kevin Doran said people were fed up travelling to Quebec and Maine in order to practice during the off season.

      "We were spending a lot of money over the summer periods to train and we decided why not bring those facilities to Nova Scotia," he said. 

      The parents formed a non-profit association and are working in partnership with the ski hill, which already has some facilities from hosting events at the 2011 Canada Games.

      For the past month, volunteers with the Wentworth Freestyle Airbag Association have been building the two jumps, one of which will be medium sized at 2.4 metres, the other slightly smaller at 1.8 metres high.

      Doran said both will sit about 4.2 metres off the ground. 

      The group has also secured a giant 15-metre by 15-metre air bag — which will cushion landings — for the training.

      He said the jumps are designed for freestyle, not aerial skiing.  

      The jumps won't require snow or even fake snow. Doran said the plastic sliding surface can be treated with water to reduce friction and the kids can wear their skis year-round. 

      "They are excited to not have to get in a car and travel for 12 hours somewhere and then train all day and then get in a car and drive all the way back home," Doran sad.

      "They're there every weekend helping us out with the construction. So they're all part and parcel of the whole construction."

      The goal is to finish this weekend in hopes of using the new facility by mid-month.

      The parents' association is paying for the jumps with the help of private donations and some revenue from selling ad space on the airbag and jump itself. 

      Doran said there are only five or six other similar set-ups in Canada.

      "It's something you're going to see more of in the future," he said.

      "Where the site is located, we'll be able to train in the spring, summer and fall — off season, just on the sliding surface that's down there now. In the wintertime, we'll actually still be able to use the sliding surface and train on the ramp and the airbag."

      Eventually the group hopes to open it up to snow boarders and possibly bring in professional athletes who want to train.

      Doran said plan are already in the works to build another jump site. 

      With files from Dave Irish


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