Happenings in the Valley
(page 5 of 6)
THE AIR BARN TRAINING FACILITY AT SAGE WILLOW
Kids do the darndest things … and at the “Air Barn” in Elkhorn, this involves big air, foam pits and 10-year-olds in flight. “Dropping,” repeated a group of helmeted fifth-graders, as they perched high atop a mini-ramp and took turns dropping in on their skateboards. “Dropping!”
They’d arrived early for a dry land training session last fall, taking full advantage of the opportunity to show lingering parents what they’re learning. As Andy Gilbert, snowboard team director for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), explained while watching the boys disappear into cushy blocks, “We still have a lot of work to do to get it up to par, but for now, for what we’re doing, it’s definitely creating some excitement in the community.”
The secluded Air Barn is a work in progress, the product of a growing partnership between the Community School and SVSEF. The former owns the 30-acre Sage Willow property and the latter directs its operation. Opened in 2011, and only built to half capacity, the Air Barn features a foam pit, trampolines and a super mini ramp, all of which currently cater to dry land training for SVSEF’s snowboard athletes. As Don Wiseman, executive director of the SVSEF, explained, “It’s a long-term commitment and the potential is huge. The Community School, with support from the SVSEF, has fully embraced the project. We think it can be a real draw to this community.” Helping to drive the marriage is the Community’s School’s Sun Valley Ski Academy, also initiated in 2011, which ensures student athletes a quality education while training with one of the nation’s most highly-respected ski and snowboard programs.
The Rise of Supervised Air
Plainly speaking, the era of indoor-action sports facilities has arrived. Beginning in 1980 with Pennsylvania’s Camp Woodward, the trend has permeated ski towns, brought about by the mainstream establishment of freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Woodward now has indoor facilities in Copper, Colorado, and Lake Tahoe, California, and other Western ski towns like Crested Butte and Mammoth Lakes have recently proposed similar projects. So while the Air Barn is a dream come true, it’s also telling of the dedication of the SVSEF and Community School to create a unique experience. Expect big things—and bigger air—from this partnership in the future.
With a goal of furthering the development and commitment, both physically and mentally, of winter alpine sport athletes, SVSEF offers three freestyle programs for young skiers and boarders.
Development Team: For kids 7 to 11 years old with 3 to 4 years of experience. The “Devo” Team trains on the snow and at the Air Barn more than 80 times throughout the year and focuses on building confidence, respect and strong peer relationships, as well as on skiing and jumping skills.
Prep & Comp Team: For kids 10 to 14 years old with 3 to 4 years of experience. The “Prep” Team offers a more focused approach and is the transition from skiing with friends to serious competition. It trains on the snow for more than 60 days each season as well as at both the Air Barn and at water ramp camps during the off-season.
Travel Team: For 12 to 18 year-olds with 4 to 7 years of experience. The Travel Team focuses on developing adolescents through intense, high- energy, year-round ski training and their impressive alumni includes Shane Cordeau, Wing Tai Barrymore and Kaitlyn Farrington. -Alec Barfield