Parkin' & Pipin' It
On Eastern Slopes '05
By Mitch Kaplan
Around the East, terrain parks, pipes, superpipes and freeriding through the trees and wherever the spirit takes you is growing like weeds in an untended garden. Everyone's on the freeride bandwagon. And why not? In an environment where Ma Nature is so unpredictable and manmade snow is a must, sculpting elements is one way to assure there's fun and action going on all the time.
We can't possibly cover the entire eastern scene, but here are some highlights that cover each state.
Okemo probably does more with their natural terrain than anyone out there. As a result, they've received top-honors from Transworld Snowboard Magazine, rated for design, grooming, variety, and challenge level of the parks and pipes; Okemo was ranked no. 7 overall and received the highest rating in the East for its Terrain Parks.
Okemo offers six parks and two pipes:
Nor'Easter Super Park: The longest park containing four table tops varying from 20'-40' in length, 2 rails, a step-up table and 1 box. The 20' by 20' The Vert Wall stands at the base of the park.
* The Dew Zone: Features various sized rails, boxes, tabletops and a picnic table.
* Blind Faith Terrain Park: A park with 20'-50' tabletops, has rollers, various boxes and rails and is used for slopeside competitions.
* Hot Dog Hill Mini Park: A great beginner park containing smaller rails and boxes and smaller air features.
* Jackson Gore Snowskate Park: Features smaller air features and mini rails and boxes. The park is walk-up accessible.
* SoBe Superpipe: Measures 500' long, with 19" high walls and serviced by its own surface lift.
* Hot Dog Hill Mini Pipe: Ideal for kids and beginners just starting out.
Killington is big, so it's no surprise that they offer big park and pipe options. New this year alone are an expanded park and a Superpipe at Bear Mountain; two new mini-pipes, at Ramshead Mountain, where the Timberline Terrain Park was tripled in length and the Easy Street Park for kids has been enhanced; and the Camp Freeride Learning Program For Ages 7-12 has been introduced. Altogether the resort has five terrain parks -- Bear Mountain, Timberline, Easy Street, Early Season on Reason and Late Season on Superstar - that serve all comers. Check out their new "battlebox" and "podium box" ending with the 32' s-rail. A true slopestyle course, indeed. The Sobe Superpipe is 430 feet long, with 18-foot walls.
Killington also offers Learn-to-Fly Weekends, developed for intermediate snowboarders who want to learn how to ride halfpipes and parks. Sessions this season are Feb. 7-8 and Mar. 27-28.
Jay Peakmay be famous for its glades, but it also houses four parks for every level rider from Grom to super-advanced. By name, they are, Grom Park, Rail Garden, Progression, and The Park. They also feature a "Trix Center" on their website.
Waterville Valley has always been at the head of the parks-n-pipes curve. They were named the no. 4 terrain park in the nation and no. 2 in the East by SKI Magazine. This season, Waterville has built new boxes and rails throughout the mountain.
The Exhibition terrain park has its own surface lift, and there is a warming hut at the park's summit where riders can warm up. The park offers boarders "Little Slammer," a smaller terrain park with a mini halfpipe, where skiers and riders can train for the larger park. Waterville also has a snowskate park next to the Quadzilla lift. Guests can also use Waterville Valley's mini skateboard ramps free of charge with a lift ticket. This four foot mini ramp also has a spine to wall ride. For other riders, there is a wall ride option.
The Street Hubba, a structure with two levels that features stairs and rails, and eight signature rails and jibs in its Exhibition Terrain Park. Exhibition Terrain Park has a 15-foot superpipe, signature rails, tabletops, hips, trannies, kickers and its own surface lift . "Little Slammer" is a smaller terrain park with a mini halfpipe, where skiers and riders can train for the larger park.
And here's a great idea: Wicked Venture Zones (WV Zones). Designed to introduce more snowsliders to bumps and glades, WV Zones are located throughout the mountain, starting with easy terrain for beginners, progressing to the most difficult terrain. Small, medium and large features are available for both bumps and glades. Waterville Valley instructors will be on hand at various times, to offer advice at each zone.
Jiminy Peak has ramped up its commitment to expanding and enhancing its parks and pipe. A consultant was brought in to assist on the creation of a new terrain park and half pipe on Coyote Ridge for the upcoming 2004/2005 season. The snowmaking has been expanded on the trail so that elements can be built side to side and the park should be able to open fairly early in the season. In conjunction with this expansion the Grand Slam double chairlift will run most twilight periods as well as weekends and holiday periods for easier access to Coyote Ridge.
Facilities include an intermediate park on Grand Slam, an advanced park and pipe on Coyote Ridge and a beginner near the base area.
Sunday River has traditionally lead the way in building multiple parks to offer a progression in feature size and difficulty. This winter, there are four parks and two pipes ranging from small, entry-level elements and an eight-foot minipipe to pro-level hits and jibs and a competition-grade superpipe. Highlights include:
* The Rocking Chair Superpark: Has three kickers, a long rainbow rail, a box/rail combo, a C-shaped box, a new trapezoid box, plus two quarterpipes, one with a massive wall ride and one with a hip attached to it, and three freestyle jumps left on Rocking Chair that flow into the quarterpipe/hip combo below.
* Who-ville learning park/Minipipe: Designed for kids, it's a great place to take that first step into freeriding for both youngsters and their parents on the scaled down features that include banked turns, rollers, and a spine.
* Superpark at Barker Basin: Has a Superpipe, quarterpipe and freestyle kicker; the pipe measures 18' high, 52' wide and 400' long with a 17-degree pitch.
South Ridge Jib Park: Has two boxes and a trapazoid rail. Great place to work out those kinks out.
Who knew? When Intrawest (the folks who gave us Whistler/Blackcomb) bought Vernon Valley/Great Gorge and re-christened it Mountain Creek , who could have ever guessed that they'd turn it into one of the major park and pipe Meccas on the continent? In New Jersey? Sound absurd, eh? But, it's true. As one resort official told us, "We don't have the vertical, but we have the horizontal. We have good space ,ad the development of terrain parks is tailor-made for a suburban backyard operation like ours. We've been instrumental in developing quality terrain park and how elements are used on-mountain."
You'll find seven terrain park "trails" here - so-called because they stretch for most of the given runs - covering 1.5 miles in total and 20% of the total slideable acreage, 36 rails and one huge, Olympic caliber SuperPipe with stadium lighting. The parks?
* 2 Intro Level: Half Moon, Exhibition
* 3 Small Jumpin' Jack, Flying Fox, Sugar Jib Park
* 4 More: Great Northern, Kyber Pass, Independence Pass, Indian Pass, Sayonara.
Mountain Creek requires the purchase of a $5 Park Pass, valid for the entire season, to access its Main Park on Vernon Peak.
Events are big time here, as well. In addition to hosting the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix from last season through at least 2006, it's the site of the Specialty Sports Pro-Am Jam, the Tour de Creek, and others.
Windham Mountain regards its elements as an integral part of its offerings. Advanced riders and skiers love stylin' in The Park on Warm Up. A 1600-foot long, veritable amusement center, the park challenges and rewards the bold with hits, rails, tabletops, spines and whales. Toss in a collection of bumps and a major freestyle kicker, and park denizens come away grinning. The Jib Park on Lower White Way is all rails. Some of these are lower-set rails, offering easier entrances and creating great learning platforms for moving up to larger jibs. But, dedicated rail-rats find many big boys in The Jib Park, as well. The Pipe Park, so named because, well, it's en-route to The Pipe, is tricked out with a collection of natural elements - including natural rock ledges - and advanced challenges. And, The Pipe. stretches for 600 feet.
Camelback welcomes park and pipe aficionados. The hill holds two terrain parks, one on the Laurel Glade trail and another on the Rhododendron Glen trail. Between them, there's a full variety of hits, rails and unique snow creations. The Laurel Glade park and pipe features a sound system. The halfpipe is 300 feet long, and also has a sound system. It's been widened by additional excavation work this year to facilitate better transitions for riders and easier halfpipe maintenance all winter long.
Snowshoe Mountain is another spot that makes the most of its natural elements. The Silver Creek area's Ruckus Ridge Adventure Park gives kids and their parents a great place to have fun together. The resort holds two terrain parks, offering everything from a 300-foot halfpipe to monster table tops, rails and other features. Spruce Glades Terrain Park has two tabletops four flat Rails, one battleship rail, one flat-down box, a spine and a quarterpipe. Mountaineer Terrain Park, too has tabletops, rails, spines and a halfpipe.
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