With snowboards and skis strapped to their feet, athletes will sail high above The City’s most famous baseball diamond, flipping, twisting and turning before landing in snow this weekend.
The second annual ski jump event known as Icer Air promises a bigger and better jump over last year’s controversial event in Pacific Heights, organizer and Olympic medalist Jonny Moseley said.
Athletes will be able to get as high as 30 feet into the air this year, Moseley said, as more than 200 tons of man-made snow will cover AT&T Park. A 350-foot-long jump will slope down from the scoreboard to the middle of the field, landing competitors around second base, Icer president Glen Griffin said.
Last year, the competition was plagued with issues as neighbors complaining about safety, street closures, noise and crowds nearly canceled the event. A bride even complained that the event would ruin her wedding. After a date change, extra security and several community meetings, Moseley was granted permission to allow skiers and snowboarders to take to a snow-covered Fillmore Street hill. Fifteen thousand fans packed The City’s steep hill as temperatures hit the mid-80s.
Organizers chose AT&T Park for its size and ability to handle thousands of spectators. A Potrero Hill site was considered, but the ballpark won, although the hill may be considered in the future.
“It’s going to be a lot easier to do tricks. Last year we had to use a little caution on the ramp. It was makeshift,” said Moseley. “We got a better jump with a better angle.”
A 110-foot steel scaffold structure supporting the jump was built by dozens of workers who took to the field this week, Griffin said. Plywood is used for the actual ramp. The artificial snow is scheduled to arrive around midnight Friday.
Unlike last year, when the event was free and open to the public, spectators this year are being asked to purchase $10 tickets.
The first stadium big air competition in the United States has drawn more than 40 world-class skiers and snowboarders to compete in six different events.
Eighteen-year-old Sean Field of Tahoe City is returning this year to compete on skis and plans to do his best trick, which amounts to spinning around nearly three times while traveling up through the air.
“I have to mentally prepare,” Field said. “I’m going to be showcased in such a prestigious park.”