'Graveyard': Olympic fans in disbelief over ski jump scenery

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Written by Chris Young. This article originally appeared on Yahoo Sports Australia.

'Graveyard': Olympic fans in disbelief over ski jump scenery
The Winter Olympics big air competitions taking place in front of a disused steel mill in Beijing has left some fans questioning the choice of venue. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Winter Olympics typically conjure images of mountainous landscapes and seas of white as competitors from all around the world compete for gold.

This time around, the Games have a noticeably different feel as Beijing becomes the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympics.

Global Tech News Daily

As the Chinese capital doesn’t get much snow in winter, more than 100 snow generators and 300 snow cannons have been used to create the 1.2 million cubic metres of powder needed for all of the outdoor events at the games.

While most outdoor events will take place in Zhangjiakou, 160km outside of Beijing, the Chinese capital is still playing host to the big air competitions.

Global Tech News Daily

This has lead to one of the more unique backdrops in Olympics history, with competitors sailing through the air in front of a now disused steel mill in the Shijingshan District.

Closed in 2008 in conjunction with Beijing hosting the summer Games as part of an effort to reduce air pollution, the mill has since been converted into a space hosting shops, a museum and commercial offices, with plans in place to convert one of the cooling towers into a wedding venue.

Big air events set up in major metropolitan areas isn’t necessarily anything new, but the jump in the Shijingsan is actually planned to be a permanent fixture as China looks to promote the sport.

The venue has been a hit with athletes, but viewers at home have taken a somewhat dim view of the old cooling towers in the background – some comparing it to The Simpsons’ home town of Springfield.

Nothing says Winter Olympics like a scenic backdrop of Chinese nuclear ☢️ power plant stacks. pic.twitter.com/dD7GosYw2k

— Kirk Haston (@KirkHaston35IU) February 7, 2022

We are really holding the freestyle skiing in front of a nuclear power plant.. what a picturesque backdrop pic.twitter.com/ejrIHV7o9X

— Full Slate Podcast (@Full_Slate_Pod) February 7, 2022

The Beijing Olympics are a testament to human ignorance.

Climate change? Nah, let’s make a fake snow village next to a power plant in the desert. pic.twitter.com/OkdYGNLTP3

— Phantochrome (@Phantochrome) February 7, 2022

Nothing says the Olympics like fake snow on a ski jump and branded nuclear cooling towers behind it… @DanWetzelpic.twitter.com/3zsulisT7V

— Greg Campbell (@GCIGreg) February 7, 2022

The #Olympics slope style being held on fake snow at a nuclear plant in Beijing is kinda peak end times no? pic.twitter.com/5Nk6stZqQn

— Dave Wedge (@DaveWedge) February 7, 2022

Imagine training your whole life, competing at the highest level, only to take the highway exit into a decrepit, power plant graveyard for the biggest run of your career #Olympics2022pic.twitter.com/yHtphXebpY

— Christian D. Prosperie (@HurrayChristian) February 7, 2022

Athletes give tick of approval to Beijing big air venue

Rusting factories and machinery remain, but the space between has been filled by grassy lawns, glassy ponds and a good deal of greenery. 

One of the blast furnaces was given a face-lift and turned into a steampunk-style event space with shops, commercial offices and a museum. 

The yards host dance showcases in the summer, and architects plan to transform one of the massive cooling towers hovering over the big air jump into a wedding venue.

“This feels like it was created in a virtual world, in a video game,” American freeskiier Nick Goepper said.

The eye-catcher, though, is big air.

The discipline is a sort of high-risk home run derby for snowboarding and freestyle skiing, taking one element of the sport and pushing it to its extreme. 

'Graveyard': Olympic fans in disbelief over ski jump scenery
© Provided by Yahoo Sports Canada Big air competitions at the Winter Olympics are being held at a facility constructed in front of a disused steel mill in Beijing’s Shijingshan District. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

Because the jumps span only a couple of hundred feet — compared to several thousand on slopestyle courses — they’re a strong fit for live audiences.

Even better, you don’t need a mountain to put on a big air event. Temporary jumps have been erected at Boston’s Fenway Park and Atlanta’s Truist Park in recent years, bringing the mountain sport to metropolitan areas instead of asking the masses to trek up to ski and snowboarding’s native slopes.

“When we went to Atlanta, lots of those people don’t get to see snow that often,” American snowboarder Chris Corning said. “I’m not sure they have snowplows there.”

The freeskiers have noticed an enormous uptick in quality at the permanent Big Air Shougang. As American Colby Stevenson said, scaffolding jumps like the one in Atlanta can be “pretty sketchy.”

“It’s a little bit scary just because you can like, feel it out there swaying,” teammate Mac Forehand said.

With narrow runways and shorter, flatter landings, those temporary setups aren’t conducive to going big. The spacious Shougang setup doesn’t have those restrictions.

“It feels like we’re up in the mountains,” Swedish freeskier Oliwer Magnusson said.

With AP

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