OLYMPIC ZONE: Slopestyle catching on in Gatlinburg - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

OLYMPIC ZONE: Slopestyle catching on in Gatlinburg

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GATLINBURG, TN (WRCB) -- The slopestyle event made it's Olympic debut. It's one of this year's new Olympic sports and it's getting a lot of attention. There's been enough interest in recent years for Gatlinburg to build a special slopestyle course.

The freestyle terrain park at Ober Gatlinburg is a result of the oldest business theory in the book; supply and demand.

Park manager Greg Gavrilets said, "I guess the demand for it was the biggest thing. Freestyle ski and board is probably the fastest growing sport in America. It's getting a lot more exposure especially with this year included in the Olympics."

The Sochi games will feature skiing and snowboarding slopestyle for the first time but park Gavrilets says the demand for a terrain park at Ober started five-years ago.

"We had kids coming up here building their own jumps and hitting stuff. The push to do the park was the fact that you can standardize it, monitor the risk management. Make sure it's correct and you're not hurting anybody. Get kids a chance to learn and get better," said Gavrilets.

And that they did, "last five years we've seen people go from little jumps to now spinning, throwing corks and inverts. It's amazing to watch the progression up here," said Gavrilets.

From November to February the park hosts several competitions.

Clay England won the skiing event in January, "it's nice to see it progress to what it's become. A couple years ago we didn't have a park. Now it's really progressing and it's something growing big," said England.

Matthew Sutton won the snowboard event, "I'am just growing up with no park at all. Then getting more features, now it's better and better. It's great to see the sport progress and everyone get into it."

Gavrilets said, "these events have grown over the past few years. When we first started out we had a core group of kids locally. Now we're having riders come down from north Carolina and other states."

They've grown but there's still plenty of boot to fill. Gavrilets is now pushing to get more women involved.

New this season, a ladies night in the terrain park, it's basically a push to encourage women to come to the park and try the features and jumps. We had our first one last Thursday and we had 35 ladies come to the park. They were hitting the jumps. It's exciting because it's not just kids anymore. We're getting a broader demographic and it's super accessible for anyone who wants to come out and try."

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