freestyle centre 

Freestyle training centre takes flight The national freestyle training centre at Blackcomb’s Base II is alive and well. John Johnston, chairman of the Blackcomb Freestyle World Cup Society, says a full size, world class water ramp and outdoor bungy trampolines should be ready for testing by the end of the summer. "The training centre plan is still alive as far as we’re concerned," says Johnston. "Blackcomb and Owens Corning have made generous contributions and we’ve gone to BC 21 for money. The overall budget for the water ramp is less than $400,000." The second phase of the training centre, a gymnasium and offices to house the national freestyle team, are also planned Johnston says. However, funding for phase II has still to be found. The training centre has nothing to do with the McDonald’s lands in Adventures West. In January, following a public hearing in which community members expressed support for the training centre but opposition to rezoning of the McDonald’s lands, Whistler council turned down a proposal by Norwood Construction to build the freestyle training centre at Blackcomb in exchange for rezoning which would allow 22 single family lots on the McDonald’s land. At the time many thought the freestyle facility at Blackcomb was dead. The national freestyle team had an offer from Alberta to make its home base and training centre at Fortress Mountain. However, Johnston, who is also chairman of the FIS Freestyle Committee, was defiant: "The national freestyle team will be here in Whistler," he said. Funding for the water ramp, including two gala dinners at Whistler, began five years ago. That money has been sitting in a bank account since then. Johnston says the water ramp and bungy tramps should become a hub on the mountain, attracting spectators as well as skiers. Local, provincial and national freestyle teams and summer freestyle camps are expected to use the facility. One ramp will likely be available to snowboarders and the bungy trampolines may be made available to the public. "I’m sure it will attract a lot of national teams," Johnston says. "We’ve already talked to the Japanese team." The Blackcomb Freestyle World Cup Society doesn’t plan on any formal operation this year but will market the facility over the winter and expects a lot of interest next spring. "It won’t be like the $3 million jump the U.S. Olympic Committee has built for the America team at Salt Lake City," Johnston says. "But it will be a good one."

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