Build a terrain park
The progression of parks!
10 years ago when you arrived in a resort and looked for the terrain park there would all to often not be one to be found. In many resorts people are still looking. When resorts finally got round to building a park it was often in a totally unsuitable place, nowhere near a lift or where the landings were flat. Half-pipes were rarely shaped and often placed where one side of the pipe got sun all day while the other just saw shade, leading to one rock hard wall and one misshaped pile of slush. But don’t be down heartened things are on the up. Ski executives were seeing their bonuses disappear as everyone was buying snowboards and turning their backs on the dark side. So they reinvented twin tips ski, with much success. This lead to skiers entering the parks and incorporating boarding moves into their aerials, and don’t they look more stylish? So the people in power within the resorts had to keep not just that passing trend of boarders, who just wouldn’t go away, happy but the future generations of skier’s content to. So parks moved from an after thought, to high up on the list of a resort development. They moved form the furthest most inaccessible spots to smack bang in the middle of resorts central station and are now a major draw to resorts. Often cheap lift tickets are sold for park only access, with many lit for night riding, with tunes blearing out all day and night.
So with many resorts building bigger and better parks we at WSG hope park users will follow some basic advice on safety and etiquette in the park. More importantly is that resorts design parks that allow for natural progression from beginners to pro. Flynn Seddon has seen resorts turn full circle, when he started riding, boarders in Big White weren’t allowed on the lifts and had to walk up the mountain to catch freshes. Last year Big White handed him a large suitcase of money and told him build us a park that’s a world beater and we think he’s done it. It truly a park for everyone there’s hits, rails and pipes of all sizes, with a fantastic signage system allowing for that all important progression, how you ever going to go big, and avoid the hospital, without hitting a few small hits first.
The following article is Flynn’s take on what’s needed in a park, how you should use a park and what it takes to run one.
When designing a park you must look at the following issues.
Build a park for all abilities.
It’s important to Design a park with the progression system in mind. Every one needs features that suit there ability, if we design a park with features for only advanced riders up to 70 % of resort visitors are left out. The main reason terrain parks are seeing a huge increase in beginner traffic is at last park designers are finally starting to build features that are suitable for the novice rider to learn on.
Run size and natural terrain shape.
It’s vital to lessen the environmental impact of a park on the mountain, so I aim to use the natural shape of the terrain to help design a park. Working with the shape of the land not against it.
Availability of snow.
Make sure that the area for your park has enough snow. Many resorts rely solely on natural snow fall, so you need to consider the area surrounding the park. Is it possible to easily move snow into the park area if snow fall is light?
Flow of the park traffic.
A resorts Traffic is hard to control, so design your park with areas for people to stop and watch riders, without being in the way. Do not place the features to close together, as people need room to land and set up for the next hit, or wipe out without hitting anything.
Building features that can be easily maintained and viewed.
When you build a feature make sure that it can be easily maintained. Do not build something that will be difficult for the cat or crew to access and keep in good shape. Some features take a long time to build and can get worn out really fast.
Have a good crew to maintain the park.
When you have a park it is only as good as the crew that maintains it. At Big White we have a crew of 16 full time staff. We also have two full time groomers with two pipe grinding machines. It takes a lot of commitment, money and energy to have a world class park.
Riders need to understand that many resorts do not have the ability to build and maintain a park to a world class level. Make sure you take all these things into consideration when you travel the world and ride different resorts. Each area is unique, and it is up to you to make the most of your experience. It helps to appreciate all the time and effort that goes into the making of a park and the natural restraints a resort has to cope with.
Parks are being designed so riders have a progressive system of features to learn and develop their skills. It’s imperative that people can learn safely on jumps and rails that fit their ability level. In recent years the resort industry has noticed a dramatic increase of park use. Beginners are flocking to areas that provide easy to intermediate park lanes, parks are now not only for the elite.
My crew and I designed the Big White park using a new progression and rating system, which was developed in Canada along with input from the Burton Smart Style program and a Canadian terrain park panel from Blackcomb, Seymour and Grouse mountains. Together we have created a progression system based on a Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large rating scale. The concept is that we build easily recognised features for all abilities of rider. By creating this rating system we enable riders to start on short and wide rails progressing to longer and larger rails with ride on, to air on, access, the same approach and sign system is applied to jumps. This is no substitute for inspecting the terrain park before using it. You should always inspect the park as snow conditions, visibility and feature design can vary from resort to resort and conditions do change throughout the day.
As you travel the world in search of the ultimate park you’ll notice resorts are developing more parks that have a progression system approach. The designers are offering the riders smaller boxes and wider rails and a progressive selection of jumps that start off small and get larger as person’s skills get more advanced. We hope that one day all parks will use our progressive approach and our signing system.
Parks are now being designed with different lane entrances, accessing only a selected and uniformed sizes of features. We at Big White have a Small and medium lanes as well as other lanes that contain Medium, large and extra large features.
These lanes have entrance signs that educate the user as to the size of features they will encounter in that particular zone. Allowing for compete use of a lines features, no longer do you have to hit only a few of the features on the way down, you can relax knowing your not about to fly of anything beyond your standard.
Once in a lane all features are marked with an ability marker showing the size of the feature that you are approaching.
Some resorts have enough room to build a lane of each size. Most resorts face a space issue. The nice thing about the progression system is that you can design a single lane that incorporates all of the different sized features and clearly mark each individual feature, allowing riders a safer decent. With the progression system all you need is a main entrance sign informing the user what ability level features are and the rider can decide which features they are best suited for.