Preparations Underway To Transform Fenway Park For Big Air
Boston's iconic Fenway Park is being transformed into an unprecedented venue for the Polartec Big Air at Fenway, Feb. 11-12, the third stop on the FIS Snowboard World Cup tour and the second stop on the U.S. Grand Prix Tour.
Preparing for the event has brought together some of the biggest names in the industry. Snow Park Technologies is building the ramp and HKD is providing the snow guns to be manned by Killington snowmakers.
“The biggest challenge is fitting this in Fenway,” Michael Zorena, project leader for the construction told SnoCountry.com. But they made it fit, with just two and a half feet to spare between the back of the ramp and the wall. “The ramp is 39 degrees on the 150-foot inrun, and the 89-foot corral is long enough for them to stop.” Riders will have to clear a 70 foot gap from take off to landing.
An elevator is being installed to carry the athletes up 150 feet to the top of the ramp, 10 feet above the top of Fenway’s back wall.
“We are absolutely counting on this structure to really get people’s minds around what we are doing. It’s one thing to look at an artist’s rendering, but to really see it come to life will build a lot of excitement,” Fenway’s Director of Special Projects Fred Olsen told us.
The crane used for lifting the 26,000 components of steel scaffolding can also be used to lift snow, buckets at a time, to the highest elevations of the ramp.
Construction of the 150-foot ramp began Jan. 18 and they hope to have it finished by Feb. 3, when Killington’s snowmaking team is scheduled to begin.
Killington is sending a team of snowmakers and their park crew to operate the HKD guns and create the snow for the ramp, then to assist with maintaining the surfaces. A Prinoth groomer will be on hand but much of the work will be done by hand.
The ramp needs 12-18 inches of snow cover and the landing needs two feet. “We anticipate making about 3 acre feet total, using about 360,000 gallons of water,” Killington’s Michael Joseph told us.
“To try and provide some context, our snowmaking system at the resort can make 80 acre feet per hour, pumping 720,000 gallons of water per hour. I would expect snow production to only take a day or 36 hours at most.” Joseph added.
There is a contingency plan with chipped ice on order should the weather not cooperate, but Joseph is optimistic that the team will offer great snow condtions for the competition. “With decades of experience among our crew plus great relationships with snowmaking manufacturers, it was a natural fit to bring our team down to Boston, less than three hours away.
"Polartec Big Air Fenway is a unique and exciting event, and the Killington team is thrilled to contribute to what is sure to be a memorable competition. It's a huge undertaking for all involved. Our role in Big Air Fenway has required significant planning, logistics and coordination with USSA and Fenway Park over the past few months to make sure we'll be successful, and now we're feeling ready to go make snow in the ball park.”
Olsen added that this was a true partnership with the USSA. “They are very keen on growing the important market in the northeast, and being in downtown Boston was a great opportunity. This is the first time anything of this scale to be here and we are proud to be a part of that.”
Click here to purchase tickets online. Snowboard events are Thursday and free skiing Friday. Times both nights are 6-10:30 p.m.
Photos: Top -- A crane is at the ready to transform Fenway Park into the host the Polartec Big Air at Fenway; Left --26,000 scaffolding components are being pieced together to create a ramp that will tower ten feet higher than Fenway’s back wall; Below -- Snow from Winter Storm Jonas is stockpiled at the base of the ramp to add to snowmaking efforts that begin Feb. 3. (Photos by Martha Wilson)