Of the four new sports on the Olympic Winter Games program, only one—big air snowboard—requires its own venue. That allows host cities to get a bit creative when it comes to where to place the enormous ramp required to allow the sport’s elite athletes to do their amazing tricks.
In Pyeongchang, organizers have made an interesting decision not to feature the sport at one of the alpine or freeskiing venues. Instead, big air will be staged at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Center. Boarders won’t be going down the ski jump ramp itself (although, honestly, how cool would that be). Instead, a snowboarding ramp for the event was in its final stages of construction last week, with crews working to build up the snow-based landing area. The ramp sits on the opposite end of the ski jump (in fact, the giant mound of snow being used for the base was dumped over some of the grandstand areas for the ski jump), with boarders landing in the same bowl as the ski jumpers, just from the opposite direction.
The height of the ramp is about 150 feet, and the ramp itself has an angle of about 40 degrees.
It will be interesting to see what future organizing committees choose to do with big air, since the ramps can be built just about anywhere. Venues as varied as downtown Denver and Boston’s Fenway Park have hosted elite competitions in recent years. When you think of how beach volleyball and its temporary stadiums have been built in iconic locations of Summer Games host cities (the Horse Guards Parade in London, Copacabana Beach in Rio, a proposed site near Eiffel Tower in Paris in 2024 and the beach in Santa Monica for Los Angeles in 2028), it’s easy to see how big air could one day become the equivalent spectacle for the Winter Games host.