Callaghan ski jumps open 

Participants brave blustery conditions for world snow day at Whistler Olympic Park

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Cool Leap Tom Thompson closes the first day of action at the new Whistler Olympic Park ski jump on Jan. 18.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • Cool Leap Tom Thompson closes the first day of action at the new Whistler Olympic Park ski jump on Jan. 18.

New ski jumps at Whistler Olympic Park weren't graced with ideal conditions for their opening day last week.

Rainy, blustery weather greeted just over a dozen participants on Jan. 18, the day the slopes debuted as part of FIS World Snow Day.

The new 20m and 40m jumps are angled so that skiers can make a small jump or a large leap, depending on the person's comfort level. John Heilig, the park's manager of Nordic sports, was glad to see the cross section of participants that came by to check out the new feature, even in conditions that didn't lend themselves to the most pleasurable skiing.

"We had a bunch of young kids and we had a bunch of adults and a bunch of volunteers out here, and I think it went really well," Heilig said. "(Because of the weather), it wasn't all that much fun, but the hill crew here is pretty familiar with preparing in all sorts of crazy conditions."

Heilig added the opening was a payoff for the volunteers who worked on getting the jumps ready. As many of them had never participated in the sport before, it was a chance to test the conditions they created.

"It's great for them to get a little feel for it, and they're psyched for getting lots of young kids out here," he said.

Proponents have enthused over the new jumps, which provide an intermediate challenge to developing skiers, and it is hoped will help usher in a new generation of ski jumpers from the Sea to Sky Corridor.

Anya Richmond, 11,is a downhill skier and has jumped on some of the junior features at the Whistler Blackcomb terrain park before. On Sunday, she hit the park's new ski-play area, which has smaller bumps, for the first time. With enough repetitions there, Richmond said she would "maybe" consider taking on one of the intermediate jumps, adding that she appreciated the camaraderie of opening day.

"You got to practice with other people," she said.



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