PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – So what’s it like diving off of a 27-meter platform? It’s scary, even for professional divers like Great Britain’s Owen Weymouth.
“People think that we’re daredevils and have no fear,” says Weymouth, a two-time national champion high diver. “That’s not the case. Every time, it’s incredibly scary. You have to get in this sort of zone where you’re not too scared, but you use that little bit of fear to get you down safely.”
Ellie Smart is the number one ranked women’s high diver in the United States and is a star on the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series. She says she tries to achieve a Zen state of mind while up on the platform.
“The second you step to the end, you think nothing,” Smart said. “It’s muscle memory, and it’s trusting your body. It’s honestly the most incredible feeling flying and being in the air.”
Divers from all over the world can now test their skills on the first high diving platform structure in North America at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. The structure has nine platforms ranging from 3 to 27 meters, as divers fall from the sky at speeds up to 55 miles per hour.
“Diving is diving to some degree,” said USA Diving president Lee Michaud. “You know what the difference is? It’s how much guts do you have. Can you get up there and make yourself do it?”
With high diving expected to become an official Olympic medal sport as soon as 2028, American divers don’t have to fly across the world to train anymore. They can do it right here in Park City.
“This is the first one in North America,” added Weymouth. “We’re not only going to have U.S. athletes, we’re going to have Canadians, Columbians, Mexican athletes send divers to this training camp.”
Before this structure was available, if divers wanted to practice their 20-meter high dives, they would have to work on them in two 10-meter intervals. Now, they can practice their routines in one fluid dive.
“To have a facility like this for pro divers and divers that are already established is great,” said Smart, who in addition to being a world-class diver, is the founder and CEO of the International High Diving Institute. “But also, it helps bring in new divers to develop the sport. We have the most platforms of any platform in the world right now. So you can slowly go higher and higher and higher every time, which lets you learn how to dive safely.”
With USA Diving on board, not only can the best divers train on the new structure, but they hope to hold international competitions in Park City in the near future.
“It changes the landscape of what we do,” Michaud said. “It allows us to do things we’ve never done before. It gives us a venue we can point to, and when people really want to do this, they’ve got a place to come do it now.”
Plus, the public is welcome to try out some of the platforms themselves, taking courses as they can build their way to higher platforms.
“I would hope for this facility to develop junior divers and get into the sport,” Smart said. “The main thing I want to see is the younger generation start to get interested and slowly progress their heights. But then also it would be great hold competitions and bring people from around the world here to the Utah Olympic Park.”