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Bring on the freestyle training center

Paula Parker/guest commentary

I’m 40. One half of the population is older than I am; the other half is younger. On one side, I’ve got the older baby boomer group and seniors; on the other side, Gen ers, Boomlets and children. I’m squarely between “The Greatest Generation,” and “Today’s Generation.” I’m smack dab in the middle; I can see both sides. I am the generation gap, so to speak.This demographic situation is quite favorable to me. I am young and fit enough to enjoy the same activities and sporting diversions as my two, athletic children. I am not a kid, however, so I watch them play soccer or baseball from the sidelines.Resort sports such as skiing and snowboarding are ones that I can enjoy right alongside them. Similarly, my retired parents are still able to ski a few runs with us on any sunny powder day, just as I hope to do with my future grandchildren.I can remember the days before the Eisenhower Tunnel, and I can see the day when a bullet train will deliver people to and from Summit County (please)!I can remember a day, not so long ago, when snowboarders were neither allowed nor welcomed on the slopes of Summit County, and I can also say that thanks to snowboarding, the “ski” industry grew a bit during the otherwise flat period of the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a good thing, since that’s why there is a “community” here in the first place – right?Without the resort industry, namely the ski and snowboard industry, Summit County might be a once-and-former-mining community, long past its prime and struggling to survive.Freeriding and its supplementary sporting activities – skateboarding, surfing, trampolining, even wakeboarding – are the latest, greatest, new thing.Freeriding is to skiing and snowboarding as lift service was to Arapahoe Basin in the post-war era. This “new-school” sport has breathed new life into alpine skiing, which shriveled amidst the aforementioned growth in snowboarding, and it’s given snowboarding a whole new arena for expansion.It presents an opportunity for families like mine to participate together in a sporting activity. It gives resorts another way to serve clients. It’s, quite frankly, a boon to our economy.Related to this new-school vitality in the industry, is the proposed Landon Sawyer Freestyle facility at Keystone.The proposal presents an opportunity unlike any other previously available in Summit County – a structured environment where athletes and students can access professional training for their sport.The facility would be staffed by people committed to training athletes at every level – from recreational to professional. It would be a safe and supervised arena where parents can participate alongside their kids and/or drop them off with confidence; a place where national freestyle and/or gymnastic camps can take place at high altitude in a truly beneficial training environment.It would be a world-wide draw.This is not a fenced in, segregated, closed-after-dark skate park that is being proposed. This will be a well-supported facility that will provide structure that parents crave and upon which kids thrive, within an atmosphere that promotes creativity, athleticism, and multi-generational interaction.I say bring it on and close the gap.The writer is the former director of the Team Summit Ski & Snowboard Team. She writes from her home in Frisco.


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