Construction nears completion on year-round airbag training center in Waterville Valley, NH

Comments by Henrik Lampert/

WATERVILLE VALLEY, NH – Tyler Mega, a 17 year old freeskier from the Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers Snowsport Educational Foundation (WVBBTS/SEF), drops into a steep in-run and picks up speed as he approaches the jump. He launches into the air and performs a double cork 1080 then drops safely into a huge cushioned BagJump airbag.  Everything has the feel of winter until Tyler clicks out of his skis and steps off the airbag, onto grass, in the middle of summer.  

Welcome to the new vision of training for regional freestyle athletes that will soon become a reality!

Construction on the Phil’s Hill Airbag Training Center is nearing completion. This one-of-a-kind venue, located on the campus of Waterville Valley Academy, will provide a safe and innovative training environment. It is named in honor of Phil Holmes, a talented WVBBTS snowsports athlete who passed away at a young age, and his mother, Sandra Holmes, a staunch supporter of  the organization who passed away this past winter.

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“We’re really excited to be building out this Master Plan project,” says Peter Stokloza, CEO of WVBBTS/SEF.  “Year-round, specialized training in conditions of increased safety will be a significant benefit to athletes throughout New England.”

Construction is scheduled to be done by late November. When finished, the 270 foot slope will be covered with 3,000 square feet of Neveplast artificial snow surface. Two jumps, accommodating different ability levels, will launch athletes into the air over the 50’ x 50’ x 12’ BagJump airbag, a professionally engineered apparatus providing exceptional safety and enabling athletes to qualify their tricks before taking them onto snow.

“The biggest benefit about this venue is the ability to coach athletes in a safe training environment, which is right in our backyard,” says Dan Shuffleton, Head Freeride Coach. “Athletes will be able to learn and master new tricks, year round without having to wait for snow or terrain parks to be built.” 

From late November to early April the venue will be used exclusively by WVBBTS Academy and Club athletes. A full schedule of camps will be offered to all interested athletes starting in the Spring of 2012.

“This is a great example of identifying a need and working collaboratively to best meet that need,” explains Stokloza. “On behalf of the athletes and families who will benefit from this new venue, we would like to thank our founding donors and corporate sponsors for making this project a reality!”

Corporate supporters include Benson Lumber, Mad River Coffee Roasters, Community Guaranty Savings Bank, Speare Memorial Hospital, Neveplast and Waterville Valley Realty. Learn more about the WVBBTS Phil’s Hill Airbag Training Center at http://www.wvbbts.org/phils-hill-atc