The Obersaxen Ski and Sports Club in Switzerland has built an artificial starting ramp where athletes can simulate and improve their techniques. The slope in Rufalipark, Obersaxen, is made of the same Neveplast material found at other artificial ski destinations like Buck Hill, Minn., and has hosted World Cup athletes like Carlo Janka as well as young talents from all over Switzerland as they work on their starting technique in various disciplines during the summer.

The construction of a dedicated year-round start training ramp continues the trend in recent years of national teams increasing their focus on the start of the race. With the inclusion of the team parallel event in World Championship and Olympic competition, as well as more parallel events being added to the World Cup calendar each season, a fast start is becoming more critical for many World Cup racers. Canadian athletes, for example, regularly practice their start technique at the training center in Calgary during the summer months.

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The 110-meter ramp in Obersaxen, dubbed “Start Faster”, was funded via a crowdfunding campaign last summer on the Swiss website Lokalhelden, or “local hero” in English. The campaign was a huge success as the ski club raised 25,350 CHF, exceeding 150 percent of its goal, which funded over a quarter of the total cost of the project over the two-month financing period.

Janka’s coach, Joerg Roten, was the brains behind the project, and Janka was able to train on the ramp several times before the start of last season. According to reports, Janka greatly improved his starting technique and translated those improvements into two World Cup podiums last season in the Alta Badia parallel giant slalom and the World Cup Finals downhill in Aspen, Colo.

This training tool, which is the only one of its kind in Europe, is also available to junior athletes from Switzerland and abroad this summer.

For a complete list of prices and services at Rufalipark, click here.

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Sean Higgins
Senior Editor
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A Lake Tahoe native and University of Vermont graduate, Higgins was a member of the Catamounts' 2012 NCAA title winning squad and earned first team All-American status in 2013. Prior to coming to Ski Racing Media, he coached U14s for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.
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