It may be the middle of summer, but the Winter Olympics of 2018 are mere months away at this point. That means that athletes around the world are in a training frenzy, and while any sport comes with the possibility of broken bones (or worse), modern technology is doing its part to keep these athletes safe. The most recent innovation in winter sport technology can be found in Mammoth Mountain. It’s a giant airbag from Progression AirBags, whose goal is to help boarders learn and perfect their tricks, even when snow is scarce, in a safer way than ever before.
The brainchild of Marc-André Tarte of Acrobag and Aaron Coret and Stephen Slen of Katal Innovations, this unique airbag actually emulates the grade of a real landing, rather than just providing a flat pillow. The new training airbag is a 200-foot-long, 77-foot-wide sack of air that weighs in at around six tons and can be broken down into separate pieces for easy mobility.
And from the looks of it, the pros are loving what the Progression AirBag offers. As U.S. Team rider (and Women’s Big Air gold medalist at the X Games) Hailey Langland told Grind TV, “The bag is basically a gigantic bouncy house, material wise … this kind of resource is super exciting for me. It’s not only to try and get comfortable with going upside down twice, but even to try basic tricks that I’m terrified of.”
She did note, however, that the bag can be something of a hit or miss. “If you fall on it the right way, you won’t feel a thing,” she said. “I have literally landed upside down — pretty much on my head — and didn’t feel it. But if the bag is kind of sticky or you fall on it wrong or land a certain way, it can whip the living daylight out of you.” Fellow U.S. team member Chris Corning agreed with her assessment, noting, “I would describe hitting the airbag as a big Slip ‘n Slide if you hit it right, or getting your board caught in a really sticky situation that sends you into a really bad rag doll.”
But still, he noted, “Having the airbag is a real game changer … I definitely see myself using it when there is no snow, just to keep my air awareness in high intensity over the summer. Keeping my tricks dialed over the summer will be key on the airbag.”