Canadian resorts may strive for sheer big terrain devoted to jibs, jumps, rails, and, tabletops, but some disagree on what is safe in terrain parks. Some view big air as risky, while others strive to add bigger and better air time.
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which operates Lake Louise, Fernie, Kimberley, and Nakiska, caused a furor among terrain park aficionados when they eliminated jumps and big air from their parks prior to last season.
"Resorts of the Canadian Rockies is an industry leader in promoting safety at our ski resorts. We have an obligation to ensure the safety of our guests," explains Matt Mosteller, business development director for the resort. "One of the main issues that increases the likelihood of serious injury on the mountain is big air."
The operator of the four Canadian Rockies resorts instead plunged more dollars into rails and boxes. "This decision was not a cost savings approach," adds Mosteller. "More investment than ever before has been made in purchasing state-of-the-art rail features for our parks." The company, however, opted to discontinue a rail park at Nakiska this winter, while maintaining rails at Lake Louise, Fernie, and Kimberley.
In opposition to RCR's policy, several western Canada resorts pride themselves on enlarging the size of their terrain parks each year. All have a broad progression of jumps to accommodate beginning freeriders as well as high-end technical skiers and snowboarders.
Panorama Mountain Resort, B.C., plans to enlarge their terrain park to nearly one mile long in their quest for big. The new park will be constructed on "Showoff" directly under the Mile 1 Quad. "This season, we're going to make a huge change to our terrain park. Not only will you be able to watch the show from the Great Hall Deck, but when you are riding the lift it will seem like our outstanding local riders and visiting pros are flying overhead", explains Kirby Brown, President and Chief Operating Officer.
Sunshine Village, Ab., bumped up their jib terrain to 12 acres last year. Rogers Terrain Park, which blankets eight acres, features combinations of jumps, boxes, tabletops, jibs, and rails lined up across the hill with progressions matched for different skills.
The opening of the four-acre Grizzly Terrain Park last winter notched up the size and reputation with its four large and extra-large jibs. It also features a 24-foot-long by four-foot-high box painted by local professional artists from the New World Samurai Tattoo Studio in Canmore.
"We've received extremely positive feedback about the four biggest and boldest jibs we've ever built at Sunshine Village," says Tim Hyndman, Terrain Park Supervisor.
Whistler Blackcomb, B.C., racks up the biggest number of parks across its two mountains. The two Habitat Terrain Parks on Whistler Mountain contain small and medium features aimed at beginning to intermediate freeriders. It sits in the progression to move into the big parks on Blackcomb Mountain, where Nintendo Park stretches 3,480 feet long with a vertical drop of 1,007 feet.
The Highest Level Park for experts has such big, technical features that users are required to have a special HL Park Pass, sign a waiver, and wear helmets. In addition, a competition-sized Superpipe and Snow Cross Track are also built on Blackcomb Mountain.
The park crew plans to make new additions by this winter. They are adding modular boxes that can be snapped together for different setup combinations and recycling parts from old discarded rails to create new technical and urban street-style rails. Their goal is to have 100 rails mountain-wide for this winter's season.
Canadian terrain parks continue to push the limits in scope and size. Pull out your tricks, for there's sure to be someone watching.
Read Paul Doherty's There's A Terrain Park For Everyone - Adrenaline Junkie Or Not for a library of information on North American terrain parks, including links to relevant stories.