Fort Smith’s snowboarding venue is receiving acclaim as one of the most picturesque in Arctic Winter Games history.
The competition slopes provide athletes and spectators with a panoramic view overlooking the frozen Slave River. On Tuesday, the weather cooperated by providing a beautiful, sunny day to match.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Team NT snowboarder Tegan Konge, who won a silver ulu in rail jam on Monday and bronze in banked slalom on Tuesday.
“There’s a huge lake and a lot of trees – a lot of trees,” added team-mate Mina Lockhart. “The hill is really big and it’s super fun.”
Caroline Cochrane, the territory’s minister of municipal and community affairs – the department which oversees sports and recreation in the NWT – was among the spectators at the snowboard hill on Wednesday.
“This is absolutely the most spectacular event that the Northwest Territories has had,” Cochrane told Cabin Radio.
“To have a snowboard hill in Fort Smith is exciting, and this will be left here, this is a legacy that will be here for their children. It’s exciting that we actually got this built.”
Big air, where competitors gain momentum down an enormous slope before attempting one, large jump to impress the judges, will take place on Wednesday.
Ben Toner, who won silver ulus for Team NT in rail jam and banked slalom on the opening two days of competition, paid tribute to the organizers as he prepared for his big air event.
“Tyler did an amazing job,” said Toner, referring to Tyler Nichol, from Whitehorse, an Arctic Winter Games veteran who acted as the Fort Smith course’s designer and groomer.
“It’s really fun. He also did the Olympics for Vancouver. He’s a really good course builder.”
Toner hopes to add a third medal in big air, but said he had struggled in training.
“I’m not too sure. I’m trying to get a couple of tricks in the bag,” he said.
“I want to do a backflip and probably a backside 720, which is two rotations spinning to the right. I’m trying to get a grab with it, so it looks a bit nicer. Maybe that will get me a bronze medal.”