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Quonset Hut Pole Vaulting Facility Helps Alaskan Athletes Jump Year-Round

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For SteelMaster customer David B., pole vaulting is a family affair. David is a second-generation pole vaulter and started pole vaulting in 1984. It’s now a hobby he shares with his two sons and daughter.

However, living in Alaska, the window of opportunity for outdoor pole vaulting is short due to the harsh winters. That’s when David came up with the idea of building an indoor facility.

“Learning to pole vault is a difficult sport, it’s time consuming. You have to do it year-round to get any good at it, so we built a structure just to help us out,” David said.

David’s building, known as the Salcha Dome, is comprised of two parts: a main 35’ x 45’ building connected to a 12’ x 80’ structure that is used as a runway.  Because heating in Alaska is expensive, he only heats the main part of the building and separates the two sections with an insulated garage door. The building has radiant floor heating.

“The only time we could [pole vault] was in the summertime outside, and we have a pretty short summer, David said. “So I wanted a building that was big enough to pole vault in but also small enough that I didn’t have to heat a huge structure.”

David researched steel buildings and came across several different types of structures.

“I looked at steel beam structures but getting them up to Alaska but it’s cost-prohibitive due to shipping. The time it takes to put together a traditional steel structure was just too much,” he said.

“Then, I looked at the tarp type buildings with aluminum poles and insulated tarps. They use up them here quite often for oil industries because they’re portable,” he said. “But they are nearly as expensive, so I started looking at Quonset hut structures.”

Eventually, he came across SteelMaster and decided our metal Quonset huts were the perfect fit for his needs.

“SteelMaster had a lot of options that go with their buildings, the steel is a bit thicker than the competition and I like the way the panels fit together,” David said. “The [building] is so solid, I think you could put a semi on top of it and it would probably stay up.”

The larger part of the structure came up by barge and arrived in Anchorage. The narrower, runway building was later shipped straight to David’s door. He borrowed his friend’s forklift to take the panels off of the semi-truck.

“It arrived in perfect shape,” David said.

Due to Alaska’s long winters, the Quonset hut pole vaulting facility had to be built over the course of two summers. David enlisted the help of his family members to assemble the structure, including his 82-year-old father.

David says putting up the first few arches was nerve-wracking, but once he got the hang of assembling the structure, the process became a lot easier.

“Once we got two or three of the arches bolted together, it became obvious that this thing’s going to be really strong.”

Once the building was insulated, David’s family got to jumping. David says because his son has been able to practice three times a week year-round in the Salcha Dome, his jumping has improved greatly.

“He’s improved about one foot, three inches over the winter because we’ve had a place we could jump,” David said.

Pole vaulting is not part of high school sports in Alaska, but now David is able to use the Salcha Dome to reintroduce the sport to students.

“I’ve got probably 5 or 6 students who jump with me regularly. They think it’s pretty cool. We’re part of the USA Track & Field organization. We’re an official club, the furthest north pole vault club in the world.”

David has completely finished the interior of his pole vaulting facility and is working to complete the exterior of the building. We can’t wait to see the finished product!

If you’re interested in designing a building that fits your needs, contact one of our building specialists today!