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Big thrills expected at FIS Snowboard Big Air spectacular at Commonwealth Stadium


A year ago, temperatures dipped much lower at a major snowboarding event held at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, but even with warmer temperatures now, organizers promise there will be plenty of the white stuff to stage the 2023 edition that features the world's largest temporary structure for the sport.

The Style Experience FIS Snowboard Big Air World Cup is slated for Dec. 8-9 at the 60,000-seat outdoor stadium, featuring the main track that rises 162 feet above field level -- about 20 feet or two storeys higher than last year's -- and runs more than 300 feet for the 'big air' portion as well as additional events and entertainment elsewhere in the stadium.

A rail-jam competition section and a public tube slide elsewhere in the stadium will be new additions this year as will musical performances, this year featuring bands Grandson and SkiiTour.

The larger main track should lead to more thrills for the audience, Richard Hegarty, Canada Snowboard's major event director, told reporters Friday at Commonwealth Stadium.

"By making it bigger, they're in the air for a lot longer, so the tricks we'll see this year will be bigger tricks because of the size," he said, adding that the more people that attend the event, "the better" the atmosphere.

And Edmonton is the perfect place to hold it, Hegarty said, as the city has "the right environment, the right climate and the right facilities."

Although a couple of weeks ago, Hegarty and other organizers "were starting to get a bit nervous" about the unseasonably warm temperatures in Alberta's capital city.

"To be brutally honest, Edmonton is the one place on our list of events where we did not think that snow would ever be a factor because, if you look at the records here, it's pretty rare that there's been no snow this time of year or not enough cold temperatures to produce it," Hegarty said to reporters on Friday at Commonwealth Stadium as workers continued to prepare the track for next week's event.

Thanks to more reasonable snow-making weather this week, however -- all snow for in-city events on the FIS Snowboarding schedule use the man-made stuff, Hegarty said -- there will be plenty of it, he said. Crews have been making the snow at the Rabbit Hill ski area in the city's southwest and trucking it to Commonwealth, crane-lifting it onto the track and using blowers to put the snow in position.

"We have all the snow we need because we've had a couple of cold nights, but it's definitely a different environment this year (compared to) last year," Hegarty said, referencing temperatures for the event a year ago that dropped close to minus-30 C three days before the start of the event.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dave Mitchell and Adel Ahmed Top Stories


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