Big Air Soars at Fenway Park

photo by: Dakota Randall
Written by Dakota Randall

By Dakota Randall
BU News Service

After the snowboarders took flight on Thursday, it was time for the skiers to hit the skies Friday night for Big Air at Fenway Park. Like the night before, a raucous crowd braved the frigid temperatures, cheering on every trick and wipe-out all the same.

On the women’s side, Germany’s Lisa Zimmermann took the top spot on the podium with a combined score of 173.20. She was followed by Sweden’s Emma Dahlstrom (173.00) and Tiiril Sjaastad Christiansen (160.80).

Christiansen, who described the experience as “unreal,” had never heard of Fenway prior to this week, but hopes this won’t be her last trip to the famous ballpark.

“I didn’t think it would be anything like this,” she said. “It’s been an amazing week… I hope they bring it back, it was the sickest thing I’ve ever done.”

Equally unaware of the significance of Fenway or its home team, Dahlstrom leaves Boston with a greater appreciation for both.

“I didn’t know what Fenway was, but once I learned the history, it made me proud,” she said. “With the surroundings of the skyscrapers, it was an amazing feeling. It really gave you goosebumps.”

Like the women, no American men managed to land in the top-three. Canadian Vincent Gagnier finished first, and was joined on the podium by Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli and Jonas Hunziker.

The 15,442 human popsicles impressed Gagnier, who said it was “the best crowd I’ve ever jumped in front of.”

Hunziker, though, was arguably the star of the night. Routinely lifting his competition-gear to reveal the iconic 8-spoked B found on the Bruins’ jerseys, he riled-up the crowd throughout the evening.

A big hockey guy, Hunziker labels himself a Terry O’ Reilly fan, citing the Tasmanian-Devil’s “strength, and how he played pretty brutally.”

The attendance Friday improved upon the 11,786 that showed on opening night, though both events should be considered a big success. While some of the park’s traditions withstood the dramatic transformations (Sox mascot Wally, a ceremonial first ‘snowball’ pitch, and the playing of “Sweet Caroline”) the presence of a 140 foot-high ski jump and all that comes with it was an undoubtedly risky proposition.

“We had some really lofty goals when the first phone call came in (about) doing a ski and snowboard Big Air at Fenway,” said Callum Clark, the VP of events for USSA, the organization behind the World Cup event series.

“But as I looked at the crowd and the energy that was in the stadium, it was humbling. It was a great two nights, and to see the crowd stick to the end and cheer and shout for these athletes was tremendous.”

Clark cited the park’s picturesque qualities as one of the event’s greatest rewards.

“The visuals that came out of this venue…it is a stunning venue to watch baseball in,” he said. “And then to throw skiers and snowboarders that are doing backside-1080’s in front of the John Hancock sign, it defied reality for a while. I think those images are going to last for our sport for quite some time.”

When asked about the chance of Big Air returning to Fenway, Clark was hopeful.

“After a night like tonight, we would love to.”

No word, yet, on that front. But like its riders soaring into the Boston skyline, the event is off to a flying start.

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