Fenway Park Has Transformed Into A Winter Sports Park For Big Air Event

Since opening in 1912, Fenway Park has primarily been known as the home of the Boston Red Sox. However, Fenway has been transformed at times over the years to host the occasional concert, football game, soccer match, and even a little hockey. However, Fenway Park has never seen anything like this.

The 37-foot wall in Fenway’s left field known as “The Green Monster” pales in comparison to the 140-foot ski jump that’s been installed in the ballpark’s center field. The jump slopes down towards home plate and will be the center of attention when the Big Air at Fenway U.S. Grand Prix, a joint event of the U.S. Grand Prix and FIS Snowboard World Cup, invades Fenway Park on Thursday and Friday. Via NESN.com, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association vice president of events, Calum Clark, spoke at Wednesday’s Fenway media day.

“The concept of putting this stadium inside Fenway Park on this hallowed ground is a bodacious concept, and it’s come together.”

More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the Fenway event and will feature some of the best free skiers and snowboarders in the world. One of those competitors is 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics bronze medalist Nick Goepper, who is very excited to be at Fenway Park for this event.

“To be here in the middle of downtown, in one of the most iconic sports venues in the entire world is an incredible opportunity. 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. There’s not even that many people that showed up to the X Games, which is like the biggest event for us. And then we’re going to have, I hear numbers like 20,000 (people) and I’m like, ‘Wow. I’ve never skied in front of that many people before.’ So that will be really, really cool.”

The gold medalist in that same event, Joss Christensen echoed Goepper’s sentiment about Fenway Park.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool that we have the brand in Fenway Park. It’s not too often that we get to ski in these more urban environments. … So I think this is huge for us. This is going to be huge to really push our sport and show a lot of people what we do. I think it’s going to be really exciting. I know there are a lot of universities and colleges around here, so I think there’s going to be a good showing.”

According to Fox Sports, the “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.”

Sports such as skiing and snowboarding are typically only talked about when the Winter Olympics roll around every four years, and the events held in the mountains during the time in between Olympic games don’t usually draw large crowds. Bringing the Big Air event to an urban environment like Fenway Park brings a different type of crowd and has been a great success in recent events in Pasadena, California, Istanbul, Beijing, London and Innsbruck, Austria. The Boston Red Sox, who obviously use Fenway Park for 81 home games, are hoping that success continues. The team’s director of special projects, Fred Olsen, is optimistic.

“This is one of the biggest things we’ve done, and it’s completely new. 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.”

With seven inches of snow in Boston on Monday, which makes for better conditions for the athletes, the Big Air at Fenway U.S. Grand Prix is shaping up to be extremely successful.

[AP Photo/Steven Senne]