Hotlanta, A Ski & Snowboard Mecca?
This Dec. 20-21, Atlanta’s SunTrust Park will transform into a ski and snowboard destination for the Visa Big Air presented by Land Rover. We are not talking about a chairlift serviced resort, or a backcountry powder-filled peak, but rather a 15-story steel structure covered in snow featuring a massive kicker designed to launch the world’s best freeskiers and snowboarders for international World Cup big air competition.
So the question is, why Atlanta? Why build a ski slope in a city that doesn’t always embrace the snow? In a January 2017 article in Curbed Atlanta, the mere presence of snow was referred to as “the devil’s dandruff,” yet here we are just 50 days out from Olympic snowboard gold medalists Jamie Andreson and Red Gerard dropping in at SunTrust Park with hopes of topping a World Cup podium. So again...why Atlanta?
The answer is multifaceted and U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw explained it best.
“I think there are three major components,” said Shaw. “First of all, the Braves are an extraordinary and visionary organization. Also, to bring the event to an amazing venue like SunTrust Park is an exceptional opportunity. On top of that, Atlanta is one of the top sports capitals of the world with elite professional teams, a strong fan base, and home to the 1996 Summer Olympics. So in a way, we are bringing the Olympic spirit back to Atlanta!”
Atlanta may not average significant snowfall, but that’s not important in this case. What matters is the existence of the competitive spirit and culture of sport that drives successful sporting events - something Atlanta has in spades. Atlanta doesn’t just have a rich Olympic history from hosting the 1996 Olympic Summer Games but continues to invest in its teams and marquee events. Atlanta hosted Superbowl LIII and is home to professional baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and lacrosse teams, as well as a large running and tennis community. Atlanta is also the home of the College Football Hall of Fame and will host the 2020 NCAA Final Four. Clearly, athletics is at the heart of Atlanta’s culture.
If that’s not enough to make Atlanta a strong contender to host the Visa Big Air presented by Land Rover, what about a state of the art venue in SunTrust Park? SunTrust Park boasts the fastest WiFi service of any stadium in the country, as well as a serious lineup of video, lighting and sound effects. The 41,149-seat SunTrust Park has 800 WiFi hotspots, plus another 300 in the adjacent mixed-use development. Freeski and snowboard fans are known to consume content, especially in real-time, and the new technology at SunTrust Park will certainly deliver for spectators. The “BravesVision” video board, which is 121-feet wide and 64-feet tall, will catch all of the action, allowing fans to re-experience and playback the amazing feats that occur over the two days of intense competition.
Together, the Braves, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the Atlanta community, as well as freeski and snowboard athletes from across the globe will look to rekindle the Olympic spirit for three days of training and competition at the cutting edge SunTrust Park. However, this time around it won’t be Muhammad Ali lighting the torch at opening ceremonies, but the world’s biggest names in snowboarding and freeskiing lighting up SunTrust Park with their jaw-dropping performances.