The terrain parks described in this article include some of the best in the Northeast, but most areas offer parks and features of their own. Indeed, we could find good things to say about the efforts of every area in the Northeast to provide terrain features for skiers and riders, although often of very different scale, with Ski Ward at one end of the spectrum and Loon, Mount Snow, Killington and similar large resorts on the other end.
The sweeping overhaul of Mount Snow's Carinthia into total freestyle terrain is the brainchild of Peak Resorts' President, Tim Boyd, and his son Jesse, Peak's Vice President of Operations and Freestyle Terrain.
"Freestyle skiers and riders are the future of the ski industry," said Jesse on a recent visit to Mount Snow.
The explosion of interest in freestyle parks has been the salvation of many small areas in ski country, where pods of freestylers spend hour after happy hour playing on rails and other features set up on really modest terrain.
Mount Snow has dedicated the entire Carinthia mountain face to freestyle terrain parks.
The major makeover also will offer a snowskate playground, hikable park, beginners' learning park, and a skate ramp near the base area. The base lodge itself will be renovated and outfitted with lounge areas, an extended outdoor deck with ample seating, counter seating along the windows, free wireless internet, flat screen televisions, and outdoor fire pits.
A high-speed quad and a double chairlift will shuttle skiers and riders up the hill, where they can choose from a variety of approximately 125 freestyle features scattered around 12 full terrain parks. A tree-skiing area, a superpipe with 18-foot walls, a mini-pipe with 8-foot walls, an all-natural park absent of manmade material and a big-air site will also be featured.
Freestyle terrain offerings at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire are considered among the best in Northeast. They are distributed across the mountain, and include a secret park made up of one to three elements that move from trail to trail, unannounced and unheralded.
Permanent locations include the Summit Loop Park; the Burton Progression Park; Bear Island Park; Picked Rock Park; Little Sister Park; the resort's signature Loon Mountain Park, and the Minipipe just above the Governor's Base Lodge.
A new terrain park landscape at Sugarloaf in Maine awaits freestyle skiers and riders this season, with a new advanced terrain park on Haywire, new beginner park on Whiffletree, newly designed Superpipe, as well as a new, permanent snowboardcross/skiercross course designed in part by Olympic snowboardcross champion Seth Wescott.
The course, which will be called "Sidewinder," will be located in the area formerly known as The Yard, and will feature live-timing, allowing guests to test their skills and weigh their times against each other and against Wescott.
The advanced terrain park features that were located in The Yard will now be found on Haywire, where new snowmaking equipment has been installed. Sugarloaf's intermediate park will again be located in the Stomping Grounds, where crews widened sections and straightened corners to allow for more features and better traffic flow. Beginning park riders will find a new park this season as well, the "Skybound" park on Whiffletree, located in the former Turbo Tubing area.
Considerable earthwork was done to Sugarloaf's Superpipe during the offseason as well, which will reduce the amount of snow needed to open the pipe by 50 percent or more. It's part of the $5 million Boyne Resorts pumped into various projects at Sugarloaf over this past summer.
Quebec's Stoneham Mountain Resort is making a permanent half pipe to reduce the cost of snowmaking and enable earlier opening.
Workers have begun drilling and blasting the hill in order to create a natural, 8-foot-deep bowl in the rock to support a 22-foot-high super pipe and establish a slope of 18.5 degrees. The resorts expect the $700,000 project will cut snowmaking time and cost by 40 percent. Work includes the installation of three new snowguns and a permanent lighting system.
The super structure required more than 250 hours of snowmaking (33,000 cubic meters of snow) and more than 100 hours of sculpting and grooming last winter. The half pipe is set to open on Jan. 3.
Lots of terrain park news from Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont. Suntanner will no longer host a terrain park but will instead have a Boarder-X course on its lower reaches. Tyrolienne will be the beginner/intermediate park and will play host to a Saturday night, under the lights, series of events.
East Byrneside and Old Smoothie will be the intermediate/advanced parks and will be updated with newer features for 08/09. An 18-foot Superpipe will be built on Sunriser Supertrail in the Sunbowl area by MLK day or before if conditions permit. Betwixt/Beeline will be a rail/jib park with multiple lines designed for all abilities of park riders. The resort also is adding a series of amateur snowboard and freeskiing events to be held Saturday nights under the lights Dec. 27, Jan. 17 and Feb. 7.
The largest off-season glade project at Stratton has been the creation of natural terrain features (jumps, rails, banks, rollers etc.) in the Emerald Forest glade. The process uses logs, felled trees, rocks, and other naturally occurring obstacles, to create organic counterparts to features normally found in terrain parks. Stratton's longest and most innovative glade, Test Pilot, also received some attention this off-season as some of the more densely treed areas are being thinned out to create better lines and more space to rip. All of the harvested timber will then be used to create features within the glade.
Wachusett Mountain's freestyle plans are a case of taking lemons and making tasty lemonade for skiers and riders in Massachusetts.
Short form: No half pipe on Look Mom this winter; instead, the ski area will construct three terrain parks around the mountain, one each for beginners, intermediates, and experts.
More details: Wachusett Mountain, for the first time in 15 years, finds itself unable to create a half pipe at the base of Look Mom this winter. The pipe was originally going to go in the Vickery Bowl, before a long and bitter permitting process reduced the size of those trails to a point where they were too narrow to accommodate a half pipe.
Instead, look for the three terrain parks around the mountain, using all of its lift systems and a variety of terrain.
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.