The temperature was in the low 20s, just fine for making and maintaining snow, when Big Air kicked off at Fenway Park Thursday night. The deep, packed blanket that lined the full length of Mount Kenmore was produced by a seven-man crew from Killington (Vt.) Ski Resort, working in tandem with Natick-based HKD Snowmakers.
According to Michael Joseph, communications manager at Killington, the resort’s crew began making snow almost immediately upon arrival at Fenway Sunday, and worked almost 24-hour-a-day shifts to have the hill ready by midweek. The 100-plus boarders and skiers began working out on the scaffolding-supported hill Wednesday, and the boarders began their qualifying runs Thursday morning.
The Killington crew included personnel trained specifically in snowmaking as well as members who typically concentrate on the grooming and maintenance of Killington’s terrain park. To get the job done on Mount Kenmore, Killington personnel employed a total of four HKD guns, of both fan and land variety.
“It’s really unique for us,’’ said Joseph. “We have some steep pitches at the resort, but nothing quite as narrow as the scaffolding. It presented some challenges. We actually had snowmakers on belay with snow guns to set stuff up.
“We came down here with a full head of steam, ready to take care of whatever challenges were thrown our way. Kind of hard to prepare for, so we brought everything down here but the kitchen sink.’’
Killington and HKD used some 300 tons of crushed ice, supplied by the US Ski and Snowboard Association, to make the snow that boarders flew across in Thursday night’s championship.
“USSA allocated 700 tons total,’’ said Joseph, “so we can bring in more if we need reinforcements.’’
The entire snowmaking process could have been in peril if, like last week, temperatures had remained in the 40s.
“We were getting a little nervous about that, but it all went off without a hitch,’’ said Joseph, noting the crew’s excitement. “It’s not very often they are going to get a chance to make snow inside Fenway Park. It is fun to bring that mountain experience and mountain engineering knowledge to an urban environment.’’
Olympic hopeful Ty Walker, from Stowe, Vt., was full of joy and eager anticipation about Fenway Big Air during Wednesday’s news conference.
“I am more excited than anything for the experience,’’ said the energetic 18-year-old, a Brown freshman, during her chat with the media at the Hotel Commonwealth.
But within a few hours, Walker’s Fenway experience came to a close when she incurred a minor back injury during the afternoon workout.
The US dominated the men’s side in the snowboarding qualifiers, with four Yanks among the 10 slots in the final. The red-white-and-blue lineup included veteran Chas Guldemond, along with Eric Beauchemin and Lyon Farrell. American Sage Kostenburg qualified but crashed during a training session and pulled out of the competition.
Upon the conclusion of the night’s events, USSA revealed that Kotsenburg fell and cracked his helmet during a training run on Thursday. Though he was not diagnosed with a concussion, he was held out of the finals because of what a USSA spokesperson termed ‘’concussion protocol.’’
Canada and Switzerland (two each) were the only other countries to have more than one athlete in the men’s final. Mons Roisland (Norway) and Seppe Smits (Belgium) were the sole representatives from their countries.
Beauchemin grew up in Grand Blanc, Mich., but his late grandfather was a diehard Red Sox fan. Beauchemin has said he hoped to feed off “energy from the crowd’’ inside the ballpark his grandfather loved.
“A lot of my family lives on the East Coast, so I’ll have some people in the crowd that will be rooting for me,’’ Beauchemin said before arriving here.
“I think it’s going to be really special competing in that stadium because he went there all the time. I like the setup. Everyone can see the jump so I feel like it’s more a spectator-type atmosphere.’’
US men who failed to make the cut in the field of 37: Eric Willett (14), Brett Moody (21), Kyle Mack (28), and Ryan Stassel (30).