Fenway Park has been the home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912. While baseball is the main focus of the stadium, it has hosted other events such as concerts, football, soccer and even hockey. Now the 104-year-old stadium can add a couple other winter sports to its resume: skiing and snowboarding.
Standing high above the Green Monster, a 140-foot ski jump has been constructed in centerfield, sloping down to home plate, for the Big Air at Fenway U.S. Grand Prix event to be held this Thursday and Friday.
Some of the best free skiers and snowboarders from around the world will gather inside the historic baseball stadium to compete in front of a large crowd of more than 20,000.
"When people see it in person in Boston, they’re going to be like, ‘This is crazy,’" snowboarder Eric Beauchemin told the Boston Globe. "It’s going to grow from there. … Having it in big cities makes more people aware of the sport, gets people interested in following the sport. For myself, having it in the Red Sox stadium is definitely something to check off the bucket list."
Starting from the top of the man-made slope which stands at about the height of the upper-deck seats, competitors will descend on a 38-degree slope to 52 feet before launching into the air to do their stunts before landing near home plate.
"To be here in the middle of downtown, in one of the most iconic sports venues in the entire world is an incredible opportunity," 2014 Sochi Olympics slopestyle bronze medalist Nick Goepper said via NESN.com. "And it brings the sport to tons and tons of people. There’s a lot of people that watch, just people that have never seen this."
While skiing and snowboarding become must-see events every four years during the Winter Olympics, the time in-between usually draws smaller crowds to the mountains to watch the athletes. Big Air brings the action to urban venues around the world, with recent events in Pasadena, California, Beijing, Istanbul, London and Innsbruck, Austria. The only requirement for Big Air to come to a city: Build a jump and have snow.
"They can bring Big Air anywhere and expose the sport to new people who might be interested in watching but don’t have the chance to go all the time or ever," 2014 Winter Olympian Ty Walker said.
If the Big Air at Fenway goes down as a success, expect the ballpark to host another in the future.
"This is one of the biggest things we’ve done, and it’s completely new," Red Sox director of special projects Fred Olsen said. "That’s part of what we’re shooting for — a new atmosphere for us to present to, hopefully, a new demographic. It’s no secret that we’re trying to reach out to a younger audience on the baseball side, and we’re definitely hopeful that this event showcases Fenway Park to some of those new people who may not otherwise come down here."