Squaw Free takes flight at Granlibakken [VIDEO] – California News

Squaw Free takes flight at Granlibakken [VIDEO] – California News

The slopes at Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe City have long been hallowed ground for skiers with its roots in ski jumping dating back to the 1920s. Later the site, at the time Tahoe Tavern’s winter facility, was considered for the 1932 Winter Olympics, and while that honor went to Lake Placid, N.Y., the area which was dubbed Olympic Hill still attracted the nation’s top skiers as host of the 1932 U.S. Ski Championships later in the year.

Though much has changed since those early days of ski jumping in Tahoe City, Granlibakken still serves as a place for sending skiers high into the Sierra air through the work of the nonprofit youth foundation, Olympic Valley Freestyle / Freeride Team or Squaw Free, as the squad is also known.

Now, a narrow strip of green, artificial snow tiles drape a section of hillside near the resort’s Treetop Adventure Park, leading Squaw Free members down a path toward a wooden ramp, and then skyward, before landing safely on an airbag.

Squaw Free opened its summer training at Granlibakken, on Saturday, July 29, as a handful of skiers from the roughly 150-member team took off for the first jumps of the year.

“It’s a little scary the first time,” Squaw Free member Michelle Tam said. “It’s really steep and the material is a little bit different than snow. But it helps out a lot because you can try out a bunch of tricks that you’re not really comfortable with on snow yet. It’s nice getting comfortable with a bunch of tricks and trying new things.”

Tam’s brother, Ryan said he was jumping on to an airbag for the first time in two years, but wasted little time once he got used to the ramp, as he looked to perfect a rodeo 720 — a combination…

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