People fly on Bristol Mountain like they never have before. It even leaves veterans of the ski aerial circuit breathless.
"This is the first time I've seen it in action, with people hittin' it," Chris Lillis said. "And I couldn't be more excited."
Lillis, the U.S. National Ski team member from Pittsford, has seen his share of air. But when he saw the new freestyle ski training center, he saw one thing first: "This was always Mikey's, Mikey's jump."
And it always will be.
Mikey is Chris's youngest brother who like Chris, and their oldest brother Jon, are natural aerialists. Jon is Chris's teammate and a world champion at freestyle ski jumping. Mikey was destined to join them, but two October's ago, he went to bed and never awoke.
He died in his sleep at the age of 17.
One of the expressions the Lillis family offered to keep Mikey in the hearts of greater Rochester's ski jumping family, is by developing a world class facility where the aerialists of the future could grow.
Patrick O'Flynn, the son of Monroe County's former sheriff, is Chris's Team USA teammate, and longtime friend, who watched Chris work with family and supporters to make the hill happen.
"It's been pretty emotional for him," O'Flynn said. "And being able to do it at his home mountain [has] been a good thing for him."
The Chinese National team has trained at Mikey's Jump since it opened. Chris was psyched to give it a try Sunday. He flew in from Park City, Utah, to give it a go. Unfortunately, his skis never made it out of JFK Airport.
Lillis will compete in a World Cup in Lake Placid next week — the first since an injury kept him from competing with his brother Jon in last year's Olympics. He will swing back to Bristol to stick his first landing on Mikey's Jump, a place he believes will become a world-class site for events and Team USA training.
"The hope is that I can jump on this site for the next ten years of my career. And always have my brother, you know, always close to my heart," Chris said.