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Meagan Bilton practises yesterday at C.O.P.’s new summer water ramp.

Freestyle skiers made a big splash at Canada Olympic Park yesterday as they descended upon the ski hill to practise the tricks of their trade — sans snow.

Athletes did back flips and 360s with their full gear on — plus wet suits — as they landed in a large pool of water when the city’s ski-hill unveiled a new summer water ramp training facility yesterday.

Gord Campbell, executive director of Alberta Freestyle Skiing Association, said the summer ramp was a long time in the making and is designed as a safe way for younger and existing athletes to practise their jumps in the off-season.

“We have world-class winter training facilities and now we have world-class summer training facilities too,” said Campbell. “It gives freestyle skiers a chance to practise their jumps and land in water, which doesn’t hurt as much. But they do break a lot of skis,” he joked.

The specially designed ramp is made of a heavy-duty plastic that’s irrigated to reduce friction for athletes.

It provides valuable training a lot closer to home for the majority of young athletes who have to qualify all of their inverted aerial manoeuvres and tricks on water before they perform them on snow.

Twenty-four-year-old competitive skier and X-games champion from Whistler Sarah Burke was one of the skiers on hand yesterday to give the new ramp a shot.

“It’s a little bit scary at first but after you go once it’s not as bad. It doesn’t really hurt when you land unless you land wrong, but it’s a lot better than the snowy ground,” she said before embarking on another water jump.

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