Belmont Park at Squaw Valley USA will take on a new look this winter. The mountaintop park is getting a huge makeover, one that will change it from a play zone into a learning park packed with fun.
"We want to trick kids into eating spinach and brocolli," J.P. Martin, Squaw Valley's new terrain park manager, told us. "We're building features to serve a dual purpose: to be fun and to provide learning. The features help teach edge pressure and dynamic movement to get skiers and riders beyond the bunny hill."
Martin, who has been building parks for 19 years in places such as Whistler and Mt. Hood, gave us a sneak peak at what we will find in the new park this winter. He described three major features that will aid instruction, almost teaching students unawares.
A mini half pipe with 8-foot-high walls carved with the big pipe cutter will contain a gentle transition. "For teaching, it pushes ski tips downhill or aids with heel-toe edging for snowboarders," said Martin.
A set of staggered rollers 2.5 feet tall, but 16 feet wide will undulate down the hill similar to a mogul field. "These help with getting your sea legs and learning dynamic movement," he explained.
A mid-thigh-high "S" spine will squiggle 300-to-400 feet down the slope. This feature provides an opportunity to work on edge pressure and holding a side hill.
Martin also plans to have these features groomed by veteran experts rather than the new grooming machine drivers. "We're working on getting features shaved down. It takes a technical eye and a patient operator," Martin said. "Grooming large jumps is easy. It takes maybe 30 minutes, but the little stuff takes a lot more time to get it right due to the size of the machinery."
Squaw Valley also has other plans afoot for kids this winter. A new children's map will lead kids on an adventure tour around the mountain through terrain with high kid-appeal to learn facts about the area. Renovations in the Squaw Kids Children's Center included redesigning the registration traffic area and expanding the second floor, lunch room, and rental room.
The resort enlarged its night terrain this winter, too. Improved lighting will allow for night skiing and riding in the Riviera Terrain Park and Superpipe.
More information: 800-403-0206.