Freeriding, terrain parks and pistes
in Beaver Creek
Nothing's better than bombing down the long, steep rollers on Beaver Creek's frontside first thing in the morning, after the grooming machines complete their first pass over more than 600 acres of intermediate/advanced trails. Trail merges are clearly marked, which keeps the beginners off at a safe distance on runs such as Redtail and Harrier, two of the main runs down the central Centennial six-seater super chair.
The mountain is basically divided into four parts, but is very easy to move around and well signposted.
For experts, the Grouse Mountain lift feeds only into steep, perfectly formed mogul runs. These can be a clattering, bone-breaking nightmare when there is no new snow and no sun to soften the bumps, but on a good powder day or in springtime, they will make any good rider a hero. There's also a steep-as-hell downhill course off Grouse Mountain that will rival anything in Europe, but beware the boilerplate.
New in 06-07 are the Stone Creek chutes, just off the Rose Bowl lift that nominally serves beginner and intermediate runs. Rose Bowl itself is a great steep face that feeds into bumps and flats something for the whole family but the Stone Creek area is really ideal for advanced riders wanting a taste of the trees. The gladed runs are steep and short, and lots of fun.
Another great place to hone freeriding skills is in the Larkspur Express area, which features a wide-open bowl as well as some nice pisted runs. Moving across the mountain, the Bachelor Gulch and Arrow areas are a favoured place for families due to its gently sloping greens and blues. A lot of teaching is done in this area, so speed traps are legion. Watch out for the patrol in here.
Even though Beaver Creek is more Bogner than Burton, the resort has done a great job developing and maintaining its three terrain parks and half-pipe. There is really something for everyone here, from rails and benches just inches off the ground to big, 30-foot kickers for the heroes and the flatlanders with more balls than brains.
Brand-new freestylers can try their first fakey rail in Park 101, the smallest and most basic of the three parks, just off the Cinch Express lift. With five rails and four boxes, this is an ideal place for beginners to learn how to go big.
Next-door is the Zoom Room, with both straight and corner rails, boxes and some table kickers that can send riders high. Theyre well spread out so there is less danger of collisions and not too visible from the lifts, so people can go big without fear of ridicule from the audience above.
Moonshine Terrain Park, off the Centennial Express lift, is where the experts go big. And big is right there are four kickers here that warrant at least a 10-ft flight, not to mention a feast of tables, spines, rails and logslides .
The parks are all maintained by the Snowboard Patrol, a group of volunteers who do their best to keep everything safe and fun, and their passion for parks shows in the careful construction of the big hits.
The Half-barrel Half Pipe is smooth and steep. Unfortunately, though, skiers seem to think theyre welcome in there, so theres a lot of ski schoolers mucking about, which can make something fun a little more dangerous. Its best in the morning, when the sun shines through the trees otherwise, extra padding is a good precaution.