April 23, 2014

Gymnastics, freestyle centers join forces

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Training facility opens in Williston

Jan. 5, 2012

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

 

Thirteen-year-old Alex Warner of Berlin catches some air at the Green Mountain Freestyle Center’s open house on Dec. 26. The freestyle center — an extension of the Green Mountain Gymnastics Center in Williston — provides a safe indoor venue for freestyle skiers and snowboarders to hone their midair skills prior to hitting the slopes. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

Former freestyle snowboard racer Scott Adam had six knee surgeries, reconstructive hip surgery and six fractured vertebrae during his racing career.

At least a few of those injuries, he surmised, could have been avoided if he had a safe, controlled environment to practice his death defying moves.

“I think if I had more facilities that were able to teach me body control and teach me air awareness, I probably would be in a little bit better shape,” Adam said.

Such a facility is what Adam recently opened.

The Green Mountain Freestyle Center, an indoor training facility for freestyle athletes, officially opened its doors to the public on Dec. 26. Located at 260 Avenue D in Williston, the freestyle center shares a building with Green Mountain Gymnastics.

“It’s become a family center,” Green Mountain Gymnastics owner Robin Bourdeau said of the newly combined facilities, collectively known as the Green Mountain Training Center. “Whether or not kids are skiers or snowboarders, or whether or not kids are gymnasts, or whether or not they’re doing it recreationally or competitively, it doesn’t really matter — it’s a training center for any of them.”

The 37-year-old Adam is the head snowboard coach at the Stowe-based Mount Mansfield Ski and Snowboard Club. He said the freestyle center — the first of its kind in New England — fills a need his group had for years.

“We needed a place like this to take our kids to the next level, and we really didn’t have anything going on,” Adam said. “Now we can use this year-round right in our backyard, and we can have our kids really pushing the limits without having to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to travel across the country.”

With an assortment of tumble tracks, trampolines and a foam pit, the purpose of the center is to provide a venue to safely experiment with potentially dangerous freestyle tricks.

“You can take your tricks to a whole different level,” said Adam. “We have the foam pit that breaks your fall, and you can try things that you’ve never tried before. The snow is not forgiving.”

In addition to serving as the new indoor home of the MMSC, the center will also be utilized by the University of Vermont Freestyle Ski Team.

Noah Labow, the UVM free skiing coach, said combining a gymnastics club with a freestyle center is a natural fit because of the overlap in training techniques between the two disciplines.

“Aerial skiers and mogul skiers, all their training is gymnastics technique-based, and they’ve been doing that for years,” Labow said. “What you’re seeing on snow is a mix of ski fundamentals with acrobatics, and if you want to know how to do acrobatics safely and not break (bones) when you come down on the ground, this is just the smart way to do it.”

Adam noted that although the center is open for business, he already plans to expand its offerings.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “The next step is we’re going to add a dry slope, so you can ride down with your board or skis, hit a jump and land in the foam pit.”

But even in its present state, 15-year-old MMSC member Sophie Warner is excited about the freestyle center.

“I’m super stoked,” said Warner. “It’s so nice. It really helps.”

For more information about the Green Mountain Training Center, including rates, visit www.greenmountaintrainingcenter.com.

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