It’s a little more than just bumps and jumps
Normally, it’s not a good feeling to have people walk all over your work. But when you’re chief of course for a World Cup freestyle event, there’s really no greater compliment.
When Heavenly Ski Resort learned that it was hosting a World Cup event, race organizers had to look further than one of their own – Heavenly Ski Foundation coach Gere Crawford – for the important task of designing a world-class moguls course.
Work on the course began as early as Jan. 13 and Crawford jumped into the mix last Sunday after returning from the Freestyle Junior Nationals in Boise, Idaho. The course boasts a 30-degree slope pitch, a 1,500-foot vertical drop, two mid-course jumps and nearly 70 mogul turns on each of the run’s four lines.
Crawford mostly plays the role of supervisor, standing atop the course as he keeps a watchful eye on the activities of volunteers down below.
“I’m not allowed to move all day,” Crawford said.
The course has to meet strict International Skiing Federation guidelines and is evaluated usually more than once a day with respect to length, distance, pitch and a number of other factors.
Each day, especially after the recent snowfall, jumps constantly have to be cleaned. Moguls need to be reshaped and carved. Landings need to be chopped and rechopped. Paint needs to be stroked around the perimeter of jumps. And if one of the courses’ four lanes is being skied too much, it is Crawford’s responsibility to close it.
“If you don’t have everything just right, it can be pretty dangerous,” Crawford said. “These are the best skiers in the world out here and they expect the course to be of high quality.”
Crawford, who has carried three two-way radios with him all week, arrives at around 8 a.m. and doesn’t leave until the sun goes down. It is his responsibility to make sure that racers wear their bibs and that only World Cup competitors are allowed on the Gunbarrel course. Crawford has made himself available at nightly coaches meetings at the Horizon headquarters to answer questions and solicit suggestions on the course design or condition.
On any given day this week, Crawford has had as many as 10 ‘laborers’ to help with the course. Volunteers might be a better term, though, as in no pay.
“The toughest part of the job was probably getting people to come out here at eight in the morning for what they know is going to be a cold, hard job,” said Crawford, who has six years of experience designing courses. “It’s a tough sell. But I couldn’t be happier with the community support we’ve had.”
Crawford won’t really know how well he and his crew did until after the moguls competition Saturday. But if early comments by several World Cup racers are any indication, he has nothing to worry about.
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