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Solid start for Air Dome

Giant foam pit great for practicing techniques
Pro slopestyle specialist John Cowan bailed on this backflip/superman attempt at Whistler's Air Dome. Photo by Andrew Mitchell

Whistler-Blackcomb opened the Air Dome at Base II to the public this weekend, giving mountain bikers and BMX riders a chance to safely practice tricks into a giant pit filled with $26,000 worth of foam.

The Air Dome was opened to bike camps earlier in the season, but will be open to the public at least until Oct. 9.

The dome includes an in-ramp, a selection of kickers into the foam pit, and a wood table. In the near future there will also be features like a wall ride and quarter pipe.

"Opening weekend was actually pretty good, considering the nice weather, and we’re pretty happy how it’s growing right now," said Rob McSkimming, vice president of business development for Whistler-Blackcomb. "We had anywhere from 20 to 35 users a day for the first four days, and we’re happy with that considering it’s new and only so many people can fit in there anyway."

The skill level of users is generally high, although some people are just learning basic dirt jump skills. Pro riders like John Cowan have also used the facility, practicing new tricks for slopestyle competitions.

Most of the riders are mountain bikers, although BMX bikes are also permitted to use the facility.

If there is enough interest the facility could remain open to cyclists through the winter, although Whistler-Blackcomb is also looking at ways the facility could be adapted for skiers and snowboarders.

The Air Dome is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Base II until Sept. 3, when it will be open 5 to 8 p.m. on weeknights and from 2 to 8 p.m. on weekends until Oct. 9. The price is $129 for a season pass,$15 for a three-hour session. The same height and waiver restrictions apply as to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.