Snowboarder Shaun White’s gold medal performance at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver has brought new publicity to “Project X,” his top-secret training facility that was based at Silverton Mountain Ski Area last winter.
Even President Obama mentioned Silverton during remarks in Denver last week at a fund-raiser for Sen. Michael Bennet’s election campaign.
“I know Shaun White’s secret training facility up on Silverton Mountain paid off,” Obama said. “I don't know how those guys do that, though.”
White’s winning runs on the half pipe included the double corks and cab double corks 1080s which he learned at the secret half pipe at a remote part of the ski area.
The “super pipe” in Colorado Basin was dubbed “Project X” by White’s sponsor, Red Bull energy drink, and was accessible by helicopter.
It cost a reported half million dollars to build. The project was kept under strict secrecy until Red Bull spilled the beans as the Olympics neared.
“I’ve had all these tricks in mind I’ve wanted to try out,” White said. “I just needed a place to figure them out.”
It took two months and 30 heli-bomb drops to get enough loose snow to create the perfect pipe at Silverton Mountain.
Meanwhile, Snow Park Technologies welded 8,000 pounds of steel to form the first ever on-mountain snowboarding foam pit to allow White to practice tricks without risking his neck each time he took to the air.
“The foam pit let me learn what the move in my head should feel like in the air,” White said.
White spent several weeks in Silverton in early 2009 in a rented home while using the secret training facility to take his sport to a new level.
Many people wondered why Silverton Mountain, which is known for having expert-only backcountry terrain, would allow Shaun and Red Bull to build a half pipe.
Aaron Brill the founder of Silverton Mountain responded.
“Silverton Mountain is all about pushing the limits and boundaries of what is possible on snow, and Shaun has set the new standard of what can be done in a half pipe like never before,” Brill said. “You don’t know if it can be done if you don’t give it a go.”
Jen Brill, co-owner of Silverton Mountain, was stoked about the publicity, especially President Obama mentioning the ski area.
“It’s putting us on the snowboard map — well, we were already on the snowboard map — but it’s putting us on the world stage,” Brill said.
“It far exceeded anything we thought would come out of it.”