Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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NYers Get Taste of Winter Sports at Free Winter Jam

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With the Sochi Olympics right around the corner some brave New Yorkers got a chance Saturday to try their hand at some of the events they will be seeing on TV right in Central Park. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.

Aquilla Mathis celebrated her 41st birthday by learning to snowboard. It was her first time trying the sport, but she says she's hooked.

"Scary, but fun," she said. "Adrenalin just rushing. Nervous, but ultimately fun."

Skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and snowboarding were all options for visitors taking part in the Parks Department's Free Winter Jam.

"I think the goal of it is really to get people exposed to outdoor winter events and really try different activities, different sports, and really expose them to things," said Bob Garafola, deputy commissioner of the Parks Department.

Even though the city has gotten around a foot of snow this week, the Parks Department brought in eight snow guns to make the slopes just right.

"What we did is, we added different hills to it," Garafola said. "So if you notice, there's a couple hills here that we built. We specifically said we wanted to make them a little higher this year, wanted to get a little more speed, a little more adventure for the kids, so they can really understand what it's like and really feel the thrill of going down a hill."

Visitors say being able to ski and snowboard surrounded by sky scrapers is a unique experience, and they waited in long lines to take part.

"So far, I'm learning how to snowboard, and I'm loving it," said one person. "Of course, I'm wiping out, obviously, but it's a wonderful experience."

"I learned how to turn, and I learned how to go the hill," said another. "I've never done it. It was very fun."

With the temperature below freezing, it would seem this weather would be the perfect setting for a winter sports event, but visitors had other opinions.

"It's too cold," said one.

"It is cold and freezing and just cold," said another.

"Cold," said a third.

Those with an extra layer of fur didn't seem to mind the cold at all. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP