Freestyle training center to open in Edwards |

Freestyle training center to open in Edwards

Geoff Mintz
Daily correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyA rendering of the new Anti-Gravity Center currently under construction in the WECMRD Field House. The facility will offer trampolines, a foam pit and a skateboard halfpipe for all types of freestyle training.

EDWARDS, Colorado – Looking to stomp that next big trick?

Starting next month, you can practice your airs at the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreational District Field House and then take what you learned to the hill for safer, smoother landings.

Modeled after the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team’s Center for Excellence, as well as the Woodward indoor training barn at Copper, the Anti-Gravity Center will be an aerial training facility for kids and adults.

To get the program started, 5,000 square feet of training space will include trampolines, a foam pit and and a skateboard halfpipe. Athletes will actually be able to strap on a “bounceboard” for the complete effect on the trampoline. If the program takes off, the recreation district plans to expand the facility to 9,700 square feet.

“We decided to take the plunge and get into it,” WECMRD Director Steve Russell said. “There were so many parents asking about it. The one area we have never addressed is the reason people live here – skiing and snowboarding. We want to help people get better.”

Russell and program manager Mike Staten worked closely with U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team staff from the Center for Excellence in Park City, Utah, who consulted on the project, along with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Freeride Director Elena Chase.

Cheryl Pearson, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association freestyle program manager, said the rec district staff did a thorough job of researching how to develop acrobatic skills during a visit to Utah over the summer.

“We feel very passionately that trampoline is a great way to establish good, basic skills for young athletes, as well as adults,” Pearson said. “You can get a lot of use out of a trampoline facility. Basic gymnastic skills and acrobatic skills definitely translate into better performance on the hill.”

The rec district will spend something in the neighborhood of $150,000 on the project, which will be open year-round and may save families a trip over Vail Pass to the Copper facility. Officials expect kids from the Roaring Fork Valley to utilize the Anti-Gravity Center as well, and the district will offer a summer day camp for kids from 5 to 12 years old.

Staten said the skills progression is modeled after the Olympic training regimen.

“We want to make it safer, so kids don’t get hurt up on the hill,” he said. “The program starts with the basics and builds up from there.”

The progression, which was designed in collaboration with Chris Seemann, technical advisor for U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s freestyle program, consists of five levels of freestyle tricks that correlate with acrobatic maneuvers.

The progression starts off fairly simple with 180s and 360s and gradually makes its way up to more complicated tricks like “coffin drops,” “rodeos” and “Lincolns.” In order to move on to the next level, the athlete needs to complete a series of acrobatic tasks.

But both Russell and Staten agree there’s a fine line between being regimented and having fun.

“We’re going to find the balance and meet in the middle to come up with something totally unique.” Russell said.

The district currently has 4,000 kids participating in its programs, and Russell believes a big part of that base is made up of skiers and snowboarders. If the facility is jammed, they’ll go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make it bigger and better.

The Anti-Gravity Center will open by the end of January. For more information, call the WECMRD Field House at 970-766-5555.

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