Construction continues to transform Commonwealth Stadium into a World Cup stop
By Steven Sandor | November 29, 2022
Do you ever get that feeling when you’re watching a video of a thrill ride, or someone atop the roof of a skyscraper, where even though you’re sitting in safety, you still get the heebie-jeebies? Well, that’s how I felt as I looked towards the top of the World Cup snowboard run that’s being constructed at Commonwealth Stadium.
The top of it stretches nine metres above the top of the stadium’s top deck. The stairway basically hangs over the back of Commonwealth Stadium’s roof. Just walking up there, let alone snowboarding down the ramp, feels like something you’d file into “very bad idea” file. It feels like someone designed this thing, then, in his or her mind, heard Dave Chappelle blurt out “cocaine’s a helluva drug.” It is the stuff of mad science. Maybe, just maybe, I could imagine Doctor Strange conjuring up such a thing.
It plummets 15 storeys, and is the first of its kind in the world. Yes, man-made jumps have been placed in stadiums before, but they’ve been located in the middle of the bowl. Never before has a ramp been incorporated into the stands, where the stadium itself becomes part of the course’s architecture.
“We build jumps like them a lot, but we don’t ever get to build them inside a stadium like this,” said Richard Hegarty of Canada Snowboard. “Normally, we build them and rebuild them, but with this, it’s a one-go thing. We’ve got one shot at it. It’s impressive.”
He said having a jump in a stadium will give snowboard fans a better points of reference for how much speed the snowboarders need to build up, and just how much distance their stunts cover. Sure, they cover the same distances when they’re on the side of a mountain, but, because the crowds are standing on the mountain, too, they don’t fully appreciate the slope. It’s like when you go on a mountain vacation; you might be in a resort that’s thousands of feet above sea level, but you never notice the height outside of the thin air.
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“It’s quite intimidating when you stand at the top,” Hegarty said. “It’s going to be quite nerve-wracking for the first person to go. You can’t test it. You’ve just got to go.”
Scott Douglas is with Clark Builders and is the project manager for the ramp. Needless to say, it’s the first massive snowboard ramp Clark Builders has even been commissioned to build.
“It has been really fun,” he said. “It is something different, unique. It’s not our typical kind of construction. It’s even worse looking from the top… I am not a great snowboarder to start with, but you’d have to pay me a lot to go off that jump.”
And, building a one-of-a-kind structure presents its own challenges.
“It’s a tight timeline, there’s no wiggle room,” said Douglas. “We’re working within an existing structure, and it’s the first time anything like this has been done in North America.”