What exactly does “big” mean when it comes to the “Big Air at Fenway” skiing and snowboarding event officially announced on Tuesday?
How about a ramp that will rise 7 feet higher than the top of the light fixtures atop the Green Monster? A drop-in run that will be about 38 degrees steep? And athletes reaching speeds between 35 and 40 mph and then soaring from center field to around the pitcher’s mound?
“To do a big air event in Fenway is the call that you want to receive your entire career,” said Calum Clark, the US Ski and Snowboard Association official who is tasked with making the event on Feb. 11-12 come to life.
“It can be done, and it will be done,” Clark said. “It’s going to be iconic and special. We wanted to show to the world that this is going to not only meet the world at what they’re doing” — a similar event was held at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Olympics venue — “but we’re going to surpass it.”
The event, a stop on the US Grand Prix freeskiing and snowboarding tour, will attract the highest caliber of extreme athletes, including Olympic and X Games medalists.
“I was so pumped when I heard the idea,” said Sage Kotsenburg, who won gold in snowboarding slopestyle at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. “It was something that I think was a long time coming, and something of this stature needed to happen inside the states for sure. It’ll be the coolest big air event I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been a part of a lot of big air events in my day.”
Big air snowboarding will be among the additions to the program at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Kotsenburg said the snowboarding community is as eager for the Fenway Park event as it is for the Olympics.
“Snowboarding came from the East Coast, it’s where it’s from, and there’s a lot of roots out here, and a lot of diehard snowboard fans,” said Kotsenburg, who is from Utah. “I think it’ll be a cool crowd, a very knowledgable crowd.”
The event was the brainchild of USSA chief marketing officer Michael Jaquet. He pitched it to Red Sox president Sam Kennedy, whom he’s known for years, a couple years ago.
Kennedy’s response? “Sounds risky,” Jaquet said.
But Kennedy also saw the event fitting right in to Fenway Sports Management’s vision for making Fenway Park home to more than baseball. Concerts, international soccer, and the NHL’s Winter Classic have been held there, and football (Boston College vs. Notre Dame) and hurling (a sport similar to field hockey) are on the way.
“We’re always excited about pushing the limits and trying to take Fenway to the next level,” Kennedy said.
Tickets for the event will go on sale Nov. 12 on the Red Sox website.
Matt Pepin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at@mattpep15.