How a £100,000 'bouncy castle' is helping our PyeongChang hopefuls

How a £100,000 'bouncy castle' is helping our PyeongChang hopefuls

30 January 2018 / 16:44
From a distance it looks like a giant bouncy castle but up close this is a deadly serious business.
Great Britain’s PyeongChang park and pipe athletes started training on an exclusive £100,000 air bag back in December, buried deep on a mountain range in the Italian resort of Livigno.

Forget ‘marginal gains’, this appliance of science is instead being dubbed ‘radical gains’ by team officials.

And, in a sport where boundaries have to be constantly pushed and injuries are part of the process, this could change everything.

"I’ve had drawing and designs on my computer of this kind of airbag since about 2008-09, but in the end it only really started coming into reality in the last 18 months when UK Sport were able to support us with an investment to buy it," GB Park & Pipe head snowboard coach Hamish McKnight told Ski Sunday.

"If you want to get to the top of the sport now you need some kind of private training environment to allow you the repetition, reduced risk and level that is required to learn these tricks.

"It will certainly have made a difference for the guys competing in PyeongChang – there’s no doubting that.

"But this air bag is not a replacement for our normal programme in training – it is an additive effect.

"We need to now work harder to include that bad in our training. We’ve been spending more time on snow, working even harder than we did to try to reach our goals."

BillyMorganSochi3200SB14Only two other teams, the USA and New Zealand, have access to similar state of the art facilities in the build-up to the Olympic Winter Games.

British athletes have established themselves as podium regulars on the World Cup circuit, with the likes of snowboarders Billy Morgan, Jamie Nicholls and Katie Ormerod and freestyle skiers James Woods and Katie Summerhayes all looking ahead to  PyeongChang with confidence.

And this airbag facility will enable them to fine hone their preparations away from the glare of competition.

"The Olympics is here and we all had tricks that we wanted to learn, but safely as well," said Ormerod.

"It’s been a great opportunity to learn these tricks in a really safe environment and get a head start over other athletes from other nations – and it’s such good fun as well."

What Sochi 2014 Olympian Morgan would have given for the facility in the build up to the last Games.

"Having this facility four years ago would have made all the difference – I don’t like to think about that," he said.

"You have the opportunity to try anything you want. I’m excited for the kids that are four, eight, 12 years behind me.

"I know a lot of the junior team and when they get on it, it’s just going to be pure madness – I’m just hoping that I’m here to see it."

Sportsbeat 2017

Join the Team GB club today, check it out right here