Summer has arrived in Steamboat Springs, but thanks to the four new aerial jumps at the Bald Eagle Water Ski Lake east of Steamboat, freestyle skiers and snowboarders will not have to stop training.
"We officially open for the season (today)," said Jon Casson, the water ramp facility manager. "We are inviting everyone out here to see what we are doing."
It will be the first full summer for the jump complex, which allows skiers and snowboarders to practice different inverted and upright aerial tricks. The ramps will be open to Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club members and anyone who wants to watch from noon to 6 p.m.
Casson said there is a lot of confusion about what the ramps are so he is hoping that residents and club members will stop by this weekend to see them first-hand.
A plastic surface allows the athletes to glide down the ramps, which launch them into the air similar to an air kicker on a ski slope. The athletes can practice their tricks while they are in the air, before making a safe landing in the lake's waters. A unique wider ramp at the facility makes it perfect for freestyle skiers, free skiers and snowboarders.
"This might be the only snowboard friendly facility in the United States," Casson said.
It also helps local athletes save money and cut down on summer travel to train in places such as Park City, Utah.
The ramps at the Olympic training center are narrower than the ones in Steamboat and are not suited as well for snowboards or freeskiing.
Casson said the facility would be open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. this summer.
Any USSA member can pay $500 for a season pass to use the facility. There also is a 12-punch pass ($200) and a 24-punch pass ($350) available to athletes. Athletes using the ramp must be current USSA members.
Casson said freestyle and snowboarding coaches would be on hand throughout the summer to work with the athletes.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org