During the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, the ski hill at WinSport looked much different than it does today.
“The ski hill was just a generic ski hill sandwiched between the ski jump site and the bobsleigh and luge track,” Mike Tanner, the director of venues for Winsport said.
Now, the ski hill at WinSport accommodates all the new freestyle Olympic events.
There are a variety of terrain parks that include Olympic calibre slopestyle jumps and rails for skiers and snowboarders, indoor trampolines for the athletes to perfect their jumps and the best halfpipe in the country according to Rex Thomas, the WinSport Academy’s freestyle coach.
“I trained here as a national team athlete in the late ’90s and seeing that evolution from then… until now is absolutely inspiring,” Thomas said. “It’s what makes it one of the greatest training facilities in our country.”
Jake Sandstrom, 17, grew up in Valley Ridge, within sight of the ski hill. He’s one of the top Nor-Am freestyle skiers in Canada. He says he wouldn’t have reached this level or had future Olympic dreams without what WinSport has to offer.
“My parents got me and my brother into it when we were very young because they figured we’d be jumping off stuff anyway, so they figured we should figure it out properly, Sandstorm said. “It’s just been really easy and convenient to have it here with all the programs.”
There’s also a progression park where young kids can learn to ski the mini halfpipe and slopestyle jumps. Tanner says progression is the key for kids who want to transition from skiing to freestyle.
“It’s really for the little kids learn to ride rails, learn to ride jumps, just to get started on something very small and learn how to start off doing these things.”