Mile High Air

2011 FIS Denver Big Air

  • Denver
  • 2011

CHALLENGE. When it comes to extreme skiing and snowboarding, participants often attempt jumps in mountainous areas that can reach heights rivaling buildings in downtown cities. In January 2011, the world’s best male skiers and snowboarders did just that by flying down a ramp that ended not on the side of a snowy mountain—but in front of a state capitol building.

Populous provided extensive event overlay and facilities services for this event calledDenver Big Air,” an International Ski Federation (FIS) sanctioned World Cup, ski and snowboard competition that took place in downtown Denver, Colo.Denver Big Air marked the event debut in the United States.The competition also was the first FIS and USSA sanctioned ski and snowboard event to be hosted in a downtown location rather than a ski resort.

INNOVATION. Populous provided design, operations management and procurement for the entire Denver Big Air footprint, including the ramp, a festival area, sponsor tents and hospitality space. With the Colorado State Capitol building and other Denver monuments as its backdrop, the massive ski and snowboard slope was one of the biggest man-made ramps ever constructed.

The imposing temporary structure was fabricated over a nine-day period from custom steel trusses, scaffolding and I-beams. When complete, the ramp stood 106 feet tall by 280 feet long and was 80 feet wide at the landing point. The in-run was a jaw dropping 44 degree pitch steeper than most ski runs in the Colorado Rockies. Equally impressive, the snow covered structure weighed in at more than 325 tons.

Over two days, Denver Big Air brought more than 20,000 people and a global television audience to downtown Denver and served as the cornerstone of the Mile High Snowfest, a week of winter themed activities centered around the SIA Snow Show. The Snow Show is the largest, most concentrated and authentic trade event in the snow sports industry and brought nearly $30 million to Denver, establishing the city’s reputation as a home for both winter-sports events and international events.