Sun. Apr 12, 2015

I have never done any kind of free-style skiing. I went off the first jump of my life this winter, got maybe two feet off the ground (optimistically) and called it a success. I spent my skiing career in racing and we tend to keep both bases on the snow. But there’s something about watching people flip through the air that convinces you that you don’t need wings to fly – just a bit of snow and a lot of guts. With that in mind, we kept watching the jumps mostly from above the launch, watching the flips, twists and rotations. From that vantage point, they would disappear beyond our sight and we told ourselves that each competitor had stuck the landing. Ignorance is bliss. Despite my nervousness for the safety of those competing, it was incredible to watch. Each guy picked up an unbelievable amount of speed; rocketing toward the jump, facing either forward or turning their backs to it – as if to further show those watching that this was just another day. The jump would then hurl them into the air and it was a wonder how they managed to control both the speed and the trick. It was almost like the whole thing happened in slow motion and the sense of calm the athletes exuded was brilliant. Each jump was as impressive as the one before it. The announcer praised each athlete as if they were old friends – although, knowing this town, they probably were. As they called out each of the tricks, I learned quick mental math in calculating that a 1260 was three and half rotations and a 1440 was four. I think I’d die happy if I could ever pull off a 360. But it seems that in this world, that’s pretty much child’s play. All in all, I loved getting to experience this event. It was one that I was told was a must-see during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and I definitely did not leave disappointed – maybe just with a hint of jealousy and the desire to try to reach three feet off the ground.

Written By Jessie Byrne Photos by Laura Hanlon