This February, Fenway Park’s most distinctive structure won’t be the Green Monster, the 37-foot-high left-field wall inside the 103-year-old home of the Boston Red Sox. It will be the 140-foot-high snow-covered ramp.
On February 11 and 12, sixty of the world’s best snowboarders and freeskiers—including Americans Sage Kotsenburg, the gold medalist in slopestyle snowboarding at the Sochi Olympics, and Joss Christensen, who took gold in the same event for skiers—will huck themselves off the incline before a crowd of 20,000 people (and an estimated million-plus viewers on the NBC Sports Network) during the big-air competition of the U.S. Grand Prix freeskiing and snowboarding tour, which will make previous stops in Park City, Utah (halfpipe), and Mammoth Lakes, California (halfpipe and slopestyle). But before the athletes can vie for the podium, a team of specialists, engineers, and snowmakers will spend 24 days prepping the ramp.
How to throw a wicked-smart big-air competition in a ballpark
A week before the event, staff from Vermont’s Killington Resort will generate a huge pile of snow near home plate. Then they’ll use cranes to create a two-foot base on the approach ramp.
The snow will be groomed with a mammoth five-ton Prinoth snowcat—the first such machine to operate inside the stadium.
An elevator inside the ramp’s steel structure will transport athletes 140 feet to the starting gate.
Preparing for Liftoff
Athletes will descend 94 feet at approximately 35 miles per hour, hit the 13-foot-high jump, reach heights of 40 feet in the air, and land on another 38-degree, 225-foot-long ramp.
Going, Going, Gone!
To medal, skiers will likely throw 1440 triple corks (four rotations and three off-axis flips), forward and backward. Snowboarders should land 1620 triple corks (four and a half rotations and three off-axis flips).