February 16, 2016

Polartec Big Air Fenway

"We'll try anything once!"

Mark Lev, the managing director of Fenway Sports Managment, didn’t mince words. In recent years Fenway Park has been converted into a soccer pitch, an obstacle course, and a hockey rink, but on February 11th and 12th the iconic ball park saw her biggest transformation yet. Stretching from center field to home plate was a 140-foot high, 740,000-pound scaffolding ski jump.

Polartec Big Air Fenway

Photo Credit: Chris Shane

The venue that typically hosts America’s favorite pastime looked into the future. Big air snowboarding will be one of four new sports in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But that was no reason to rid of tradition. The familiar “Sweet Caroline” boomed through the speakers during whatever the equivalent of a 7th inning stretch is in a Big Air skiing/snowboarding competition. As usual, it was SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!

A week before the competition, the temperature in Boston reached 60 degrees and remained that way until a few days before. Then it dropped lower…and lower…and lower. By the end, temps were in the single digits. Had the weather not been cold enough for the HKD snowguns to make the goods, thousands of pounds of ice would be finely ground and scraped on the ramp. This is how Shaun White executes his Air + Style event in Los Angeles.

Polartec Big Air Fenway

The jump rises over 140 feet. That’s higher than the light towers in Fenway.

Polartec Big Air Fenway

Not the typical view from home plate.

Polartec was the main sponsor of the event, and it was a perfect fit. The company is based out of Lawrence, MA, and the cold weather had all of those in attendance wishing they had brought an extra layer.

The day before the event, Polartec gave media members the opportunity to see the stadium and try out some of their newest fabric technologies. This was quite the experience. We changed clothes in the visitors locker room. Honestly, it looks basic at best, but it doesn’t matter because there’s so much history. Plus you can tell people you changed in Fenway’s visitor locker room. I shoved my stuff in one of the lockers and couldn’t help but wonder who else had used that locker before me. Same deal when I used the toilet.

We were outfitted in garments featuring three of Polartec’s fabrics that are perfect for cold-weather workouts.

Strafe Alpha Mid Jacket

The Strafe Alpha Mid Jacket features Polartec® Alpha® insulation. I tend to generate a lot of heat during workouts and this one was no different. I unzipped the piece a couple of times during the workout, but for the most part I was impressed with how it shed heat.

QOR Baselayer Half Zip

The QOR Baselayer Half Zip features Polartec® Power Wool™, which is polyester on the outside and merino wool on the inside (combining durability of poly with performance of merino). This piece paired nicely with the jacket. Post-workout the merino felt cool against my skin.

QOR Power Stretch Training Tight

I was most impressed by the QOR Power Stretch Training Tight featuring Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro. Take this with a grain of salt. I have never worn fleece pants before and I rarely have problems with my legs being too cold or too hot. That being said, this was my experience. At first they were toasty-warm (in a good way) when I put them on. As I started to sweat, the fabric seemed to pull it away from my body. The occasional wind gust would travel right through the pants, which felt just as nice as the aforementioned toasty-warm feeling. How’s that for a technical review?

Polartec Big Air Fenway

We tested the gear in a 45-minute circuit workout from Barry’s Bootcamp. The combination of a high-exertion workout with the cold temperatures made it a perfect environment to test the gear. The class made me realize that despite all of my running, other parts of my body are in not-so-good shape. In the days following the workout, I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

Thank you to Polartec, Barry’s Bootcamp, Fenway Park and all others involved for this amazing experience.

Discuss

Questions? Comments? Let's hear 'em.