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  • Waterville Valley's Little Slammer Is For the Pint-Sized Set

    By Mitch Kaplan

    Photo courtesy WatervilleWe vividly remember the first time we saw Waterville Valley's Boneyard. We were just sliding along - Dad was skiing, Dan was riding - when suddenly there was all this junk in the trail. I mean junk. Somebody had even left part of a school bus over there with the roof sticking out of the snow.

    "Whoa!" said the kid, who was about age eleven then and still new to his board. "Whassup with this?"

    What was up was the gnarliest, coolest terrain park in captivity. Only they didn't call them terrain parks then. They called them snowboard parks. Because only snowboarders would go in them. And, they created obstacles from manmade objects like that bus instead of building large snow hits the way they do now. But, this was definitely the most incredible park we'd ever seen.

    So incredible that Dan wouldn't go in. Too intimidating for a his size and ability.

    Well, Dan's way past that now. A young adult who rips big air whenever he wants, and works on 360 tail grabs and other stuff with strange names. But, there's a whole 'nother generation of little riders coming up, and places like the Boneyard (which remains one of the East's most radical parks, although with a lot less junkyard inside), are still too much for them.

    Enter Waterville's Little Slammer. A park created just for the smaller set who want a place to get that first air, a place to work up to the big stuff in a habitat inhabited by others of their ilk.

    Makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, kids start out playing baseball on little league fields. They shoot hoops at seven-foot-high baskets. Why shouldn't they have scaled-down elements to play on?

    You find Little Slammer between Valley Run and lower Exhibition, and it's got it all - a halfpipe, mini-jumps, rollers, berms and tabletops. And, with everything being kid-sized, the little guys suffer no intimidation, and parents don't worry that their small ones will get bashed by a large person.

    Photo courtesy WatervilleBut, Waterville hasn't stopped there. On novice terrain, they've created "Smart-Terrain," snow features that have been sculpted to serve as teaching aids. They use gentle banks and rolls to help initiate turning and develop technique. I know of at least one rider-wannabe Dad who could have used that kind of help when he first put himself on a board.

    And, what if you're not on a board but you want to play in the park, too? There's Exhibition Park for skiers and riders. It is major. They've built a pipe in there they call "The Wicked Ditch of the East." Largest halfpipe in New Hampshire. How cool is that? Very cool, according to the young adult children who today populate this family. Toss in jumps, tabletops, rails, hips, trannies, and launchers of every imaginable shape and size, and you've got something special going.

    Waterville's dedication to kids and snowboarding is not new. It's had time to percolate, develop and be refined. And, maybe that's why their facilities and programs take a back seat to no one. Now, if I could only figure out how to stay upright in a toe-side turn, maybe I'd challenge one of those parks with a board.

    For more info on Waterville kid's programs click here.

    Visit their snowboard website here.

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