Building The Jump

After almost an entire week of snowfall at Thredbo, it seems like sunshine is finally in the forecast. When one of the worlds biggest jumps has been sitting dormant under cloud and wind, this is welcomed news for the athletes who have otherwise been sitting on their hands all week long. But when the abating fog reveals a perfectly manicured snow-creation that excites none more so than the worlds best, will we ever properly appreciate how it came to tower before us it melts into the months of Spring? Let's scratch the surface of the construction efforts behind the Toyota One Hit Wonder Big Air.

Terrain park crews work all hours of the day.

For this year, the jump take-off is approximately 25 feet tall, with the takeoff to knuckle distance being roughly 90 feet. This means that athletes will be traveling anywhere up too 140 feet to the sweet spot of the landing. Departure and landing angles are a precisely calculated science, tried and tested over many jumps. The take-off is 35 degrees, and the latter is 36 degrees. The result is, on average, 3 to 3.5 seconds of airtime. "One of the key elements setting the Toyota One Hit Wonder apart from other big air events is in the steepness and length of the landing... this gives competitors the comfort of going excessively large in the air whilst knowing there is a long landing below them." -Reuben Cameron, Terrain Park Manager.

Reuben Cameron in happy times; that is when he wasn't dealing with "too much snow!"

It takes two machines (typically a 13 tonne winch cat & something called a Park Bully) and 10 days to push up the initial pile of snow. The Thredbo Park crew then put in serious overtime grading the landing, building the takeoffs and shaping the jump to be nothing short of perfect. Cutting the sides alone takes 5 days with just 1 machine and about 6 of the park crew working by hand. Under average conditions the total cat hours is roughly 220 at approximately $300 per hour, although the biggest challenge for a jump this size is Mother Nature. The weather can affect the snow quality, work ability and build time. This past week was a perfect example: Last Sunday the jump was all but ready to go, but by Monday morning record snowfall was undoing a lot of hard work. Then 5 days of wind and snow meant wind drifts were flattening out the landing, filling in the hand-cut halfpipe and literally burying the mega-snow structure where it stood. "Too much snow is generally not a problem we get to deal with in the Australian resorts, but right now it feels like we're trying to unearth ancient Rome with a toothpick and have got 2 days to do it." -Matt Galina, Thredbo Parks. 

Having to move this much snow from the jump-site is an almost unprecedented feat for the park crew. It's a bittersweet problem to have... A record snowfall during this week in September isn't something we hope for, but by the same token we can't really complain about it.

We parked a RAV4 around here somewhere.
Some of the athletes enjoying the 140cm+ blizzard.

Credit where credit is due, here are the names of the crew working tirelessly in any and all conditions Jack Frost hurls at them to ensure the construction is complete by sunrise:

Terrain Park Manager and Builders
- Reuben Cameron
- Jake Kaykoh
- Tristan Bates
Cat Operator / Snow Pushers
- Thredbo Slope Maintenance
Thredbo Parks Day Crew / Hand Shapers and Rakers
- Mathew Galina
- Nicole Gray
- Levi Tombstone
- Emma Nosworthy
- Jack Johnson
- Harrison Biden
- Ashlin Coyne
- Thomo
Snow Sculpture Guru / Artwork
- Grassi Kelaher

Things were looking great before the storm rolled in. But if this crew have anything to do with it, things will look great again.

We'll be waiting here patiently in the Village for the day when the sun finally does come out. If you are visiting Thredbo Alpine Resort this weekend, Sunday looks to be the day to head up to the jump-site to watch some of Australia's best skiers and boarders do flippy spins off a pile of snow that has been weeks in the making. The results will be nothing short of spectacular.

Check out the 2016 highlights for a little insight here.