November 16, 2022
  • November 16, 2022

Big Air at Hastings Park for the 2030 Olympics? Back to the PNE ski jump (PHOTOS)

By on June 27, 2022 0

In the 12 years since the hosting of the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, other disciplines from existing sports have been added to the competitive events of the Games.

One such discipline is the addition of “big air” under freestyle skiing and snowboarding, which was first introduced in 2018 in Pyeongchang, and made a comeback in 2022 in Beijing (artificial jump surrounded by industrial concrete cooling towers).

If Vancouver were to rearrange the Games in 2030, Hastings Park could have the pivotal role of being the venue for big air competition.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) unveiled its preliminary 2030 Games concept for potential British Columbia bid, which includes the use of Hastings Racecourse for the big air. A temporary ski jump would be constructed on the racecourse grounds, perpendicular to the existing 5,000-seat covered grandstand. When the seating capacity is combined with the standing capacity, the hall’s total capacity could reach 20,000.

While Beijing 2022 built a permanent jump structure, the Pyeongchang 2018 and X Games jumps use temporary construction, such as a scaffolding system.

The idea of ​​placing any sport of ski jumping in the city seems unusual, but there is actually historical precedent at Hastings Park.

In 1958, a temporary ski jump was constructed at the old Empire Stadium as part of special PNE programming that year to celebrate the centennial of British Columbia’s incorporation into a colony.

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

At the time, ski jumping was a hugely popular sport in British Columbia, and such structures were also common in the North Shore mountains, especially at the top of Grouse Mountain.

According to a 1958 archived Vancouver Sun article, a 25-man crew spent 13 days constructing a 50-metre-high (165 ft) ski jump at the north end of Empire Stadium.

The jump structure was constructed of 22.5 km of tubular steel and had a landing area 12 meters (40 ft) wide. A pair of machines were brought in to convert 300-pound blocks of ice into a snow-like substance for the jump and landing pad. The ski jumpers slid down, slid across the field and into a pile of straw at the south end of the stadium.

The event was held as a three-day Centennial Invitational Tournament that brought together ski jumpers from around the world.

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

Temporary ski jump installed at Empire Stadium in Hastings Park/PNE, 1958. (City of Vancouver Archives)

The 33,000-seat Empire Stadium was built a few years earlier, in time for Vancouver’s hosting of the 1954 Empire Games, now known as the Commonwealth Games. It was the original home of the BC Lions of the CFL and the Vancouver Whitecaps of the NASL, until BC Place Stadium opened in 1983.

In 1993, Empire Stadium was demolished due to its advanced age and reduced use following the opening of BC Place Stadium.

Empire Stadium made a short one-year comeback between the summer of 2010 and the summer of 2011 when a new temporary home was needed for the BC Lions due to extensive renovations taking place at BC Place. Stadium, including the new retractable roof. The temporary $14 million, 27,500 capacity “Empire Field” stadium was built on the same footprint, with the temporary stands from the 2010 Games being reused for parts of the venue.

pne empire stadium ski jump vancouver 1958

empire field pne hastings park vancouver stadium 2010 2011

The temporary Empire Field stadium on the former site of Empire Stadium, 2010–2011. (Unitech Construction Management)

empire field pne hastings park vancouver stadium 2010 2011

The temporary Empire Field stadium on the former site of Empire Stadium, 2010–2011. Captured during a CFL BC Lions game. (Unitech Construction Management)

vancouver hastings park sports fields f

Sports fields at Empire Field of Hastings Park in Vancouver, 2021. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

After the removal of the temporary stadium, the municipal government took advantage of some of the site improvements that were made. Instead of the previous configuration of an unsustainable natural grass surface with baseball diamonds, the post-2011 design incorporated two full-size synthetic turf football fields for public use, warm-up areas and a 560 track meters (1,840 feet) with a rubberized surface for walking and running. Other uses on the grandstand footprint have also been added, such as basketball courts, parkour, playground, bike park, and a monument to “The Miracle Mile” running race. which was held at the site during the 1954 Empire Games.

Empire Field could potentially be used as one of the official training centers for visiting national teams during Vancouver’s role as host city of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

For the 2030 Winter Olympics, in addition to hosting big air freestyle skiing and snowboarding at Hastings Park, the COC is proposing to bring figure skating and short track speed skating back to the Pacific Coliseum, d to host curling at the Agrodome, host the evening Olympic medal ceremonies and Paralympic Closing Ceremony in the new 10,000-seat PNE Amphitheater, and transform the PNE Exhibition Center into a live party venue with concerts , activations, exhibitions and cultural showcases. Hastings Park would essentially serve as the “Olympic Park” for the 2030 Games in Vancouver.