“We don’t not think that it’s insane. It’s definitely crazy,” Jasmine Baird, a 23-year-old snowboarder who competed for Canada at the 2022 Olympics, said about preparing to launch herself off a colossal jump built inside Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. “But that’s why we do it — feel that adrenaline, do something different.”
Baird spoke to reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. She is among some of the world’s best snowboarders who are in Alberta’s capital for a Snowboard FIS World Cup Stadium Big Air event this Saturday, the first time such an event has ever been held in Canada.
“It actually doesn’t look real,” Baird said of the 147-metre long ramp that was built on scaffolding that was erected inside the stadium that normally hosts the CFL’s Edmonton Elks.
“I’m just in disbelief. This thing is huge.”
Dubbed “The Style Experience,” Saturday’s event is billed by Canada Snowboard as a “spectator-and-entertainment-focused festival celebrating snowboard culture and style.”
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Mark McMorris, a three-time Olympic bronze medallist, will also launch himself off the massive ramp Saturday and said holding a stadium event like this in Canada will help grow the sport’s popularity.
“It’s definitely the future of getting more eyes (on the sport),” he said, adding that does not mean snowboarding events will shift away from their natural setting in the mountains. “(People will) get inspired.”
The 28-year-old Canadian athlete said since he arrived in Edmonton, he has noticed “a buzz around the city.”
“There’s just a lot of excitement around here,” McMorris said. “I think this is one way to show the sport to a new audience.”
Fourteen-year-old Eli Bouchard was granted an exemption to also take part in Saturday’s event as participants are normally required to be at least 15 years old.
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The rising star is known for being the youngest person in the world to ever land a double backflip. He was just eight years old at the time.
Bouchard said competing against McMorris at his first-ever World Cup event has him very excited.
“It’s pretty sick because when I was young I was watching videos of him… trying tricks he does,” he said.
Laurie Blouin, a 2018 Olympic silver medallist, said Saturday will be her first time ever competing at a stadium event.
“The energy’s for sure different (with a big crowd),” the 26-year-old Canadian said. “(I’m also) super excited to be in Canada… most of our contests are in Europe — so to not have jet lag and stuff like that, it’s like important.”
Several snowboarders offered positive first impressions after seeing the Commonwealth Stadium jump. Construction on the ramp began late last month.
“A lot of times you’ll show up and it’s barely done,” McMorris said of jumps built on scaffolding. “These guys have had it going really well this whole build, and it looks like you could compete on it today.
“Very impressed with what they’ve done here.”
McMorris added that even experienced snowboarders generally find that jumps built on scaffolding “tend to be a little bit harder.”
“Scaffolding is definitely a little bit scarier,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure your stuff is completely dialled if you want to bring it to a jump like this.”
Baird said being nervous to prepare for such jumps is not a bad thing, but remaining confident is key to see success on them.
“Do your tricks over and over, get them on lock… Just have that confidence,” she said. “The biggest thing is figuring out the speed… after that, go for it.
“It’s just, like, such a good feeling — literally flying. Like, I’ve been skydiving before — it’s kind of like that.”
McMorris said he believes Saturday’s World Cup event will go over extremely well with Edmontonians.
“Everyone out here in Edmonton loves winter sports,” he said, noting the several local ski hills nearby and pointing out that the Rocky Mountains are relatively close
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“I’m super excited,” Baird said. “(Crowds at stadium events) bring up the energy so much. Everyone’s so hyped… It just makes it so much more fun.”
Massive jump built at Commonwealth Stadium for Snowboarding World Cup stop in Edmonton
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