At the bottom of one of Wapiti Valley Ski and Board Resort’s steepest hills, there was a large jump, followed by a massive air bag to cushion any falls.
The bag was brought to the resort by the Saskatchewan Snowboard Association for two days: Jan. 28 and 29.
Murray Ernst, the Saskatchewan Snowboard Association’s president, said the bag serves as both a way to promote snowboarding and as a way for high-performance athletes to practice their tricks.
“This is a training aid for them to be able to develop tricks and then once they can complete them on here, they can take them to snow and then do them off of terrain park jumps,” he said. “For the general public, we like to use it as a marketing tool because it’s a fun thing to do and it gives everybody else the opportunity to do the same things.”
Along with the general people, there were two athletes from the provincial team and five from the development team.
This was the first time the bag was brought to the resort and the second year it’s been accessible to the public. Ernst, who was also at Wapiti to train snowboard instructors on behalf of a different organization, said the bag program was also about developing relationships with the province’s ski resorts and helping them out. This is the only time this year the bag will be at Wapiti.
“What we’re hoping is as we promote our sport, we also show value to the resorts,” he said. “Our problem is it’s getting to the point already – because it is such a fun thing – that we run out of dates to do it on. We don’t have enough dates in the season to take it two or three times to every resort.”
Marc Anderson, the general manager of the resort, said he was excited to have the bag there, along with a terrain park competition Jan. 29.
“I think all of the young riders here that are looking to try new tricks and stuff, it will be the perfect opportunity for them to try it out and get some confidence on a bit of a bigger jump.”
Ernst said he’s seen tricks like double rotations, 180s, flat spins, double rodeos and double wildcats developed by athletes on the bag.
“If we’re running it properly, we think it’s about the safest method people can learn to progress on because they can go and huck a big trick that they would have no confidence to do off a regular jump because of the consequences, but you can completely fail –” he said as somebody landed on the bag awkwardly and let out a moan. “Like that. That was a fail – and be completely fine.”