PARK CITY — The Center of Excellence in Park City is where Winter Olympic dreams begin.

It’s where athletes going for the gold must first put in the work at the gym.

"I'm so lucky to grow up here and to have my parents raise me here,” said Joss Christensen, one of the many athletes at the gym Thursday morning.

Christensen is one of those who put in the work. He's from Park City and won gold during the Sochi 2014 Olympics in slopestyle skiing.

However, another big part of going for the gold is sponsorships.

The U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Association held its annual Partners Summit on Thursday at the Center of Excellence to thank its sponsors and get them excited for future competitions.

"We compete against European nations who get a tremendous amount of financial support from their government. We don't get a penny from the government,” said Dexter Payne, chairman of the USSA board of directors.

USSA's budget is roughly $35 million a year.

In the past year, that has led to 22 medals in nine sports — one of the most successful non-Olympic seasons in history.

It’s also a big reason why Christensen understands saying hello to sponsors during this event is so important.

"It's good to just meet them face to face, talk to them, meet new people, and it's good to just build our connections and show everyone what the ski team is about,” he said.

One topic getting a lot of attention at the Partners Summit is big-air snowboarding. It will be a new Winter Olympics sport in 2018.

"I think it's really exciting,” said Ty Walker, a member of the U.S. Snowboarding Team.

Walker won gold recently in the women's first big-air snowboarding event in Istanbul, Turkey. The sport is basically pulling one trick — and one trick only — before landing.

"I think it's really easy for the audience to understand and that's the excitement, too,” she said.

Another part of that excitement is the ramp and jump can be put almost anywhere.

A big-air competition is being planned for February inside Fenway Park in Boston. The course will stretch from center field to home plate and stand 110 feet high.

In comparison, the famous Green Monster at Fenway is 37 feet high.

"I think it's going to be opening a lot of doors to different venues and locations that we can ride and demonstrate what we do,” Walker said.

Though big-air snowboarding will be a 2018 Olympic sport, big-air skiing will not.

“We anticipate it coming on board in 2022. We had anticipated for 2018, but it’s OK,” said Luke Bodensteiner, USSA’s executive vice president of athletics. “There has really been a nice evolution in terms of new sports coming in and new disciplines being introduced. For us, we’re excited about big air snowboarding.”

Email: acabrero@deseretnews.com