PARK CITY, Utah — The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea are 177 days away, and athletes are already training hard.
But to the astute observer, a question may arise: How does one practice a winter sport in the middle of the summer?
For the United States ski teams, training without snow means moving to water.
Fortunately for U.S. athletes, a world-class training facility in Park City, Utah makes it possible to practice in conditions that are remarkably similar to those athletes will experience in snow.
Members of Team USA have said the transition from snow to water and back again is smoother than some might think.
“In the end of the summer here, we’re doing the exact same jumps that we’ll be doing hopefully for gold at the Olympics,” said Mac Bohonnon, a freestyle skier on Team USA.
The Park City complex was built in the early 1990’s, and used during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Once those ended, the complex became a full-time practice facility, which riders have said is invaluable in beginning early preparations.
“We still work on our landings here and looking at the ground and making sure you’re prepping for that landing–this facility is huge for us,” said Ashley Caldwell, a freestyle skier on Team USA. “It’s the best offseason training you can get.”
Though people sometimes tend to think of both water and snow as ‘forgiving,’ the athletes who land on these surfaces know better.
“Some people kind of forget that water really isn’t that soft, especially when you’re coming down from 60 feet in the air,” Bohonnon said.
The U.S. Olympic Park will also host the team trials for ski jumping when snow returns to the area in December.