ATLANTA - Scientifically speaking, there was snow at SunTrust Park on Tuesday.
Crews building the VISA Big Air course at the Braves ballpark will be making and maintaining 800 tons of manufactured snow in preparation for the men's and women's snowboard and freeski big air competition. The event will take place Friday at Saturday, with 164 athletes representing 27 countries expected to compete.
For comparison, during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, 30 nations competed in snowboarding, and 27 nations competed in freeski and freestyle disciplines.
Athletes expected to compete from the United States include Olympic gold medalists Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson, Olympic silver medalist Kyle Mack, and six-time Crystal Globe winner and current FIS World Cup Big Air points leader Chris Corning; two-time Olympic medalist Nick Goepper, two-time X Games gold medalist Alex Hall, 2018-19 FIS Slopestyle Crystal Globe Winner Mac Forehand, the Fagan Brothers (Deven and Kiernan), Colby Stevenson, and Willie Borm; 2019 FIS World Championship big air silver medalist Julia Krass, Olympian Caroline Claire, and potentially Maggie Voisin making her debut back from injury.
The cold temperatures rolling in to Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon were helpful for the snow manufacturing process, organizers said.
According to Chris Semann, technical advisor for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the snow is being made using liquid nitrogen from semi trucks. It will take about 50 trucks to fill the tents holding the snow, which are maintained at -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The snow will be kept in there until Wednesday night, when crews will spread the snow out on the course to prepare for practice on Thursday morning.
A similar event was held at Fenway Park in 2016, but this is the first internationally-sanctioned ski and snowboard event in the southeast. Semann said organizers drew on the Fenway experience when planning the SunTrust Park competition.
Construction on the 15-stories-high ramp began the day after Thanksgiving, and finishing touches were being applied on Tuesday. The ramp is 150 feet high and 410 feet long, which means athletes will drop into an approximately 40-degree run, launching off the jump at speeds up to 40 miles per hour while flying 70 feet into the air.