Freestyle Skiing Olympic Stadium Design

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The design of the stadium (courses, spectator stands, video wall & scoreboard, ski lift, lighting system, judges’ stands, sport production facility) needs to be fully integrated.

In Freestyle Skiing, we create a dynamic reaction between the spectators in the stands / venue and the athletes. The better we can design the venue, the sport production, the presentation with our rules and specifications, the better the emotional reaction we can generate from the crowd / athletes and then the better the TV pictures.

In Freestyle Skjiing we want to make some very interesting history.

This was achieved this in Sauze D’Olux, despite some major venue flaws. Perhaps we did this better in Sauze because of the design (maybe not intentionally) of the stadium (the spectator stands were very close to the finish area). The overall quality of the spectators experience was better in Deer Valley. We also worked very hard on the sport production and presentation, but that is another big story we can deal with in the future.

The night time competitions provided a great atmosphere and added tremendously to the skiers performances, the show and the overall experience for the spectator and the TV audience.


In Freestyle Skiing, we are fully into the process of ‘Freestyle Stadium Design’, verses placing the courses on the side of the slope and then watching the OC work around the issues of lighting, spectator stands, scoreboards and location of the judges’ stands.

Some considerable time reviewing, the positive and negative aspects of the stadium designs for ’02 Deer Valley USA, ’Sauze D’Oulx 2006 and also in a limited way, Ruka 2005 (Finland) FIS Freestyle World Championships. (Ruka is a very similar construction case to what you will have at Cypress, but in Cypress you will need to do less earth moving work)

All of this review and analysis has given me a much better idea of the need to think about everything first before the shovel has gone into the earth.

In the first case, there is one overriding venue issue is that of trying to ‘weather proof’ the site. Without any hard weather data on Cypress, the winds appear to move up the valley and could create problems with the aerial site and the operation of the competitions.

There are many issues that surround the process of venue overlay, which has taken place after the courses have been decided upon. Make a mistake with the placement of the courses and then you can get weather issues, lighting problems and spectator viewing issues and in the end you get bad TV.


The overall Stadium design needs to be taken into consideration when designing the courses.

This means, that there are key relationships between;

  • The placement of the courses, angle of center lines between the courses
  • Offset of the course finish lines
  • Distance and angle to the spectator stand to finish lines / R2
  • Position and angle of the video wall to the spectator stand and exit gates
  • Location of the TV (which side)
  • Exit Gate locations
  • Speed of the lifts, a fast ‘turn around’ time on the course is needed
  • Sound Design

In Deer Valley, there was a greater care and attention to the design, whereas in Sauze they did lots of work, but the overlay continued to present endless problems which could have been worked out in the preparation of the courses. These issues were pointed out at the start of the process, but we were not listened too.


Here are my principles for the ‘stadium design’:

  • FIS Course Criteria are the design standards (not the averages but the higher ranges for the Olympics)
  • Consideration of the weather is designed into the Stadium
  • Every ‘spectator seat’ or ‘spectator standing’ position needs to a have direct line of site to the full competition course.
  • Every seat or standing position needs to have direct line of site to video wall and scoreboard
  • The ‘hot box’ or ‘wedge’ (where we line up the top 3) needs to have a direct line of site to the scoreboard and video wall
  • The Aerial site needs to be designed so it is protected from the prevailing winds
  • All courses need to machine accessed from both sides at the top, middle and bottom
  • Snow Grooming Machines need to be able to drive / work completely around the courses
  • Permanent Judge Stands are required for Olympic Freestyle courses
  • All lighting installations need to be on the outer site of the stadium
  • Stadium lighting cannot be placed in the stadium (between the spectators and the field of play)
  • Lift access to and from the top of the course must have a fast turnaround time
  • Relationships between the standing spectators and the seated spectators needs to be balanced
  • Creation of an ‘intimate atmosphere’ between the ‘fans’ and ‘athletes’
  • The sound system overlay needs to be for the spectators first and athletes second.
  • Sport Production Facility needs to have full view of the aerial knoll, mogul start and Score Board and Video wall.
  • Post Games considerations (none of my business, except I want to have a ‘world class’ stadium to stage World Cups And World Championships beyond 2010)

Freestyle Olympic Stadium Design part 2

OWG Freestyle Stadiums

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