The 2022 Beijing Olympics have made a unique impression in many ways. The fact that 100% of the snow at the event is artificial is one, but the most unique so far has been the setting and construction of the Shougang Big Air Jump.
Located in the heart of a former steel mill, China’s first state-owned steel production plant, the Big Air jump looks out of place. Unlike previous Olympics, where athletes soar through the air above gnarly peaks, this year’s 2022 Olympians are launching over old steel mill chimneys and towers. What used to send billowing plumes of smoke into the atmosphere is now sending world-class athletes. It’s not the most stereotypical backdrop for the Winter Olympics, but it’s certainly unique and brings attention to the area’s industrial history.
The Olympic committee chose Shougang for the location of the Big Air jump to restore the district’s desolated mill and the community around it. After the mill closed down before the 2008 Games, to reduce pollution, the Government decided to renovate the area rather than scrap it. Parts of the old mill have been turned into shopping centers, commercial office spaces, and eventually even a wedding venue. The stadium surrounding the jump will even function as a concert venue for future events. The Beijing Organizing Committee headquarters are located here as well.
The jump is permanent, making it different from other inner-city competition jumps. Pop-up jumps for competitions in Atlanta and Boston have been shorter and sketchier, as they are made of scaffolding. According to many of the athletes, they were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the jump. Many hope that it’s a sign of what’s to come for this up-and-coming sport.
“It’s one of the best big-air jumps we have,” said Mac Forehand from Team USA in an interview.
The Chinese Olympic Committee has heavily invested in this venue to encourage young citizens to participate in winter athletics. The infrastructure for this venue offers many other training facilities, like speedskating, ice hockey, figure skating, and even curling.
Since the backdrop of this venue is so unique, there have been mixed opinions about it. After the first Big Air competition, many sports fans were blown away and a little disappointed with the venue’s location, as they associate the Winter Olympics with natural snow and snow-covered peaks.
However, the infrastructure, planning, and technology that built this venue show how crucial it is to renovate areas rather than waste materials and start from scratch. Like the event itself, the debut of this unique location and architecture behind the jump has made a mark on the industry.