Find yourself in a terrain park
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As one of the top professional snowboarders in the world, Summit County’s own Zack Black is often pulled in a lot of directions – competitions , filming , even school.
Once on his board, though, everything just goes away.
“There are so many pressures and things going on, but the mountain should be a place where you get to be yourself,” he said.
And there might not be a better example of an athlete’s individuality than when a snowboarder or freeskier takes to the terrain park. Jumps, rails, boxes, halfpipes – there are infinite possibilities on every trip down, the run acting as a blank canvas for riders to throw down
their own personal artistry with every hit. You could stand next to a single feature all day, see dozens of riders hit it and not see the same trick twice. And Black said that’s one of the most appealing aspects of it. “It’s a place you can really challenge yourself and continue to move the pro-gression of your riding,” he said. Black’s had ample opportunity for that, growing up in an area with four ski hills and at least three times as many parks.
Really, Summit County is a haven for jibbers and jumpers of all disciplines and skill levels, from Keystone’s legendary A-51 park to Arapahoe Basin’s beginner track called High Divide. While there’s obvious risk in taking to any park feature, you certainly don’t have to be a skeezed-out, top-flight pro to pull a rail slide or launch off a kicker. Although, you might want to protect your head with some hardware – and having the right equipment under you feet is a good idea, too.
The consensus among most park rats and pipe junkies is to make sure you have twin-tip skis and boards, meaning the same curve on the nose and the tail. This helps for trick progression, as riders and skiers alike need to be able to land and take off switch (backwards on skis and with your off foot forward on a snowboard).
“If you’re in a park, you need to be able to ride switch and regular,” Black said. “So you need the twin tips.”
Black, who rides for Silverthorne’s Unity Snowboards, said picking a board – or even skis – is all personal preference, though. Even binding settings and boots come down to what each rider feels most comfortable in.
“Snowboarding is all personal. Some people like soft boots, some people like soft bindings, some like hard boots, some like this, some like that,” he said. ” … You just need to find out what works best for you.”
Everything in snowboarding comes down to the individual.
“I don’t ever want to tell someone what they should be doing,” Black added.
“If you enjoy it, do it. You need to find your way.”
So, while you won’t likely find yourself alone at any of the county’s terrain parks, you’ll have the chance to carve finding yourself as a rider along the way.
Canadian Mike Riddle has one main piece of advice to anyone that comes to him seeking a tip from one of the world’s
best halfpipe freeskiers.
“Just have fun, mostly,” he said. “You have to be a solid skier, so you have to work on every aspect of skiing.
“Don’t just go to the parks or to the halfpipe. Make sure you’re working on edge control and forward pressure (on your skis), as well as your tricks.”
To be able to pull the tricks that Riddle and many of his colleagues make look so easy on TV, you need an all-around ability level. It takes speed, control and a whole lot of confidence to attempt pretty much any trick.
“You need to come into a jump with confidence,” pro snowboarder Zack Black said. “In life as in snowboarding, it’s all about committing yourself to what you’re doing.”
Black said having a positive mindset is just as important as the skill level. As the only rider to ever pull a switch, backside 1080 in a major halfpipe competition, Black knows what he’s talking about.
“You have to believe you can do it,” he
said. “Then you can commit yourself to
Hen Hudak, arguably the best women’s halfpipe skier in the world, said one of the biggest things to focus on is maintaining speed. It can be difficult to keep moving quickly when you buckle on a landing, but Hudak said there are a few things you can focus on to help push through it.
“I always try to think of it like when you’re on a swing, and you try to pump your legs to get more momentum as you’re swinging,” she said. “You want to find that same rhythm in the halfpipe.
It’s all about timing and staying forward in your boots and being strong when you get to the top of your wall.” Most of all, Riddle said, don’t get too carried away.
“First and foremost, have fun, because if you’re having fun, you’ ll learn,” he said.
To get ahead of the curve in trick progression, check out Woodward at Copper. Located at Copper Mountain, the state-of-the-art indoor facility utilizes Snowflex technology to allow skiers and riders the chance to test out tricks in a safe, supervised fashion. Trampolines, ramps and foam pits are the best ways to learn a trick before taking it to the snow.
And Woodward’s training staff is mostly made up of current and former pros, who have been through it all before. For more information, visit http://www.coppercolorado.com/winter/plan_and_buy/woodward/index.html
With five full parks, two halfpipes and more jumps than an NBA game, it’s no wonder Breckenridge has been considered a jibber’s paradise for years. The resort’s brand-new, state-of-the-art 22-foot superpipe and full slopestyle course – originally created for the resort’s annual Winter Dew Tour stop – are both located within the expert terrain of the Freeway Super Park, just above the base of Peak 8.
Eldorado on Peak 9 is the resort’s least challenging park, featuring a small triple-jump line, some boxes and a few rollers. Moving over a couple runs to the north is Bonanza, which can help serve as a steppingstone to bigger features. Trygvres is the lowest level of Peak 8’s three areas with more beginner-level features and jumps. Freeway is another run up, and then, finally, Park Lane is just above Freeway. Park Lane gives a rider extreme variety with many monster jumps, jibs and rails.
Avid skiers take to Copper for its diverse terrain. But, its terrain parks might have the most variety.
With three full areas, not to mention its world-renowned 22- foot superpipe near the base of Center Village, Copper’s features can compete with anyone’s. Catalyst is the largest and features three different jump lines, as well as a slew of boxes, rails, jibs, walls and even a set of
stairs. High Point is another stellar jump line, and the Eagle Jib Park has 11 different features.
While “The Legend” didn’t gain its fame from its terrain parks, the low-profile ski area boasts two solid areas where progression is at its highest – literally.
The Treeline Terrain Park is the highest advanced park of its kind in North America, featuring everything from a rainbow rail to a C-box with three jumps thrown in for good measure. A little lower on the mountain is the High Divide park, set up for those testing the waters, er, snow, of freestyle terrain.
While Keystone definitely has terrain and runs for all types of skiers and boarders, the resort may be best known for its A51 Terrain Park. Ranked No. 2 in the country by TransWorld Magazine, A51 is a massive terrain park located in Keystone’s Packsaddle Bowl just below the Peru Express lift by the Mountain House base area. The park is made up of more than 100 features, a 22- foot superpipe and four separate jump lines. The area is broken up into beginner, intermediate and advanced sections and has its own A51 lift. The crew at Keystone is considered one of the best in the business, and the park’s features are regularly changed around, rebuilt and renovated. The resort also has Spring Dipper, an early- and late-season park.
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