Skiing used to be about all you could do on the hill. Signs were posted that said, "No inverted aerials." Rogue teenagers would build jumps and hit them all day long until they were caught by ski patrol. Times have changed. Resorts are embracing jumps, parks, and tricks, and placing tabletops, rails, and walls on the slopes. The language has changed to cork, misty, rodeo, and kangaroo flip. Those are the tricks the kids do in the park.
"Before snowboarding came along, I think the sport of skiing had reached a plateau. It really needed some kind of life or revitalization," Copper Mountain'sDavid Roth told OnTheSnow. "I think snowboarding did that, and it progressed even further with freestyle. Snowboarding is 50 percent of our market these days."
Copper caters to boarders and freestylers who want to hang out in the terrain parks at Copper. "The reason we're so big on terrain parks is because the general public has started focusing more on terrain parks and just freestyle skiing and snowboarding in general."
Copper's Main Vein Superpipe is one of the biggest and best in the country, with frequent national and international competitions. Copper is also home to Woodward at Copper, which is an indoor/outdoor ski and snowboard camp, which caters to kids who focus on flipping and tricks on snow. The park and pipe crew at Copper work closely with management at Woodward to have the best features possible on the mountain.
Steamboat Resort is always improving its park system as well, with 10 employees dedicated to the terrain parks on the mountain. "We're looking at all facets of the resort to see how we can enhance the guest experience, "said Steamboat's Loryn Kasten.
Steamboat has focused on a progressive park experience. "We really want to allow our guests to grow within the park and pipe atmosphere." Lil' Rodeo is a beginner pipe with smaller features and the Mini Mavs halfpipe, which is an eight-foot pipe. "It's a place for beginners and first-time riders to start to understand how to ride features and tackle things."
Rabbit Ears Terrain Park is for intermediates, with bigger features. Eventually, they can progress to the Maverick Superpipe and Terrain Park.
Kasten adds that in this day and age, you have to cater to all types of activities on the mountain. "There's terrain parks, a slopestyle course, a boardercross course, and we have ski bikes. The idea of snow play has changed and I think resorts everywhere are adapting."
Enjoy this video from Copper Mountain's Thanksgiving Rail Jam event.