Rodeo, Misty, Cork, Bio, 1080, and Underflip. That's the lingo you might hear from your young skier if they are a freestyle fanatic. Kids have always loved to catch air and now they can do it legitimately on mountains the world over. Some take it to the next level and compete in freestyle skiing. Steamboat has a place that skiers from around the world come to train during the summer and fall, and you can too. It's the Steamboat Water Ramps. They're jumping well into the fall, as long as a wetsuit is on.

The water ramp is built on a private water skiing lake on the edge of town. Freestyle ski teams from across the region make the trek to train on the ramps. You'll frequently find buses in the parking lot from Team Summit (Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper), Telluride, Winter Park, Aspen, as well as Oregon, Wyoming and other states.

It's a place where athletes can practice flips, 360s, and double back flips and land fairly safely on water. A hard splash can still hurt but it's not like landing on hardpack snow in the winter. Before hitting the big ramps, jumpers can practice on in-ground trampolines.

Erik Skinner is the Freestyle Program Director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. "It's the most realistic training they can have before they get to snow. The speed on the plastic is about 10% slower. Training on the water ramps immensely helps freestyle athletes as it promotes body awareness so they can land on their feet. You can learn a lot of things there where you don't have the fear you might have on snow."

Penn Lukens competes with the Armada Freestyle team with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. "It's great for kids of all ages and kids learning how to jump. It has helped me learn flips before I try them on the snow so I don't hurt myself. It's like skiing in the summer."

Kids who visit the water ramp grab their old gear, or get skis, boots, a life jacket, and a helmet from a second-hand shop. The gear is guaranteed to get water-logged and trashed. Skis have to have safety straps, too. Beginner jumpers have to check in and get the lowdown on proper ramp etiquette. Spectators are welcome to sit back and enjoy the show. You could very possibly see an Olympic athlete or two in training.

Anyone, age eight and over, is welcome to take a shot at the Steamboat Water Ramps, which remain open through Oct 11. You can sign up for a private lesson, or come during Open Water Jump for a $25 drop-in fee. Punch cards are available. Skinner adds, "It's the best roller coaster in the world. It's an adrenalin rush and a good challenge. It's an absolute blast."

More Information Or call 970-879-0695, ext. 105.