Mountain Spy

I am heading up to your mountain with a couple of my friends and we're interested in your park and pipes. Could you tell me a little about it all?

For this edition of Mountain Spy, our 007 Liz Eren got on the horn to find out how ski resorts handle phone clls about their terrain parks. In a year when many areas are struggling with snow, the answers were interesting...and all over the place.

New Hampshire, Large Area

First Contact: Young male, friendly enough.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: About the park and pipe? The pipe isn't actually open yet and the park opened today. What else would you like to know, what's in it?

SAM: Yeah, please. (On hold for about a minute or so. No music, just mountain highlights recording.)

Staff: There's some jibs and some rails and some jumps and the pipe is being cut now. ummm, yeah. (Long, silent, pause.)

SAM: Ookay. Is there a beginner area?

Staff: Oh yeah, there is a progression park with smaller elements and there's one, two, three, uhh, four parks open today including the progression park.

SAM: Oh, all right. The progression park is good to know about. Thanks.

Staff: Yeah, so that's about it.

SAM: Okay thanks so much

Rating: 4

Comment: This mountain received top park ratings in its region! A little more enthusiasm could have gone a long way but this guy just wasn't feeling the love for park and pipe. It's all about the attitude man!

Vermont, Large Area

First Contact: Automated machine, chose general resort info option.

Answering Phone: Male, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Hold on a second, let me put you through to the information booth.

Answering Phone: Young male, good mood.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Uh there's no halfpipe. The big terrain park is open though. There's six humungous hits and there's a huuuge school bus that they brought up there to hit and soar right over. Then there are a couple smaller parks with a bunch of jibs and rails.

SAM: OK, so you have beginner areas then?

Staff: Oh yeah. The two parks on trail x and y are great for beginners. And then the huge one on trail Z has the big features and big hits. There's something for everyone.

SAM: Awesome, thanks.

Staff: No Problem.

Rating: 7.5

Comment: This guy was pretty pumped about the parks and his mountain's really cool school bus feature. Quick and brief but the excitement was there.

New Hampshire, Large Area

First Contact: Automated machine, chose general info option.

Answering Phone: Woman, friendly, transferred somewhere...

Answering Phone: Young male, full of energy.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yup. We don't have pipe right now but its on the way. We do have a fully loaded park though. We got jumps, rails, hits and jibs and a quarter pipe. So you know, it's like a halfpipe but not really because it's a quarter pipe, so half of a halfpipe. You know what I mean? A quarter pipe, you can still go up. Got that? (I was laughing out loud at this point. This guy was a comedy show. I could barely type as fast as he was spitting out lines.)

SAM: Yeah, I do, haha, thanks.

Staff: The halfpipe is on its way though, no worries. What you'll definitely want to do though is go onto so you can actually see what I'm talking about instead of trying to visualize what I'm saying because that's not really the easiest thing in the world. Once you do that though you'll probably want to come out because it's pretty much the best place to come around here.

SAM: So you're saying you're the best park around in your area?

Staff: Well I didn't say that on record buuut yeah. It's the best placed I've ridden in the past two days.

SAM: Ha ha, so in the last two days, your mountain is where I want to be.

Staff: Oh yeah, it's the place to be.

SAM: Sounds good to me, thanks for all the info. What about beginner parks, anything?

Staff: Yeah, we do, Burton progression park. It's a lovely park compliments of Burton that came down here to put it in. Do you know Burton? Snowboards? Up in Burlington? They've been around...

SAM: Yeah, I've heard of them.

Staff: Of course, right. So you progress through this park, obviously, so you can work your way to do what we call slammers. And we're building a small pipe in there. It's all more to have fun than for brutal competition.

SAM: It all sounds great. Thanks again.

Staff: Oh hey, yeah, no problem. Visit our site, you'll definitely want to make your way up here once you do.

Rating: 9.5

Comment: I was laughing the whole time with this guy. He was so eager about it all and joked around with me. He instantly made the conversation personal because of his attitude, which is such a relief for the caller. Covered the basics well with website info and even a shout out to Burton. All great tips. Well done my man.

Identity Revealed: Waterville Valley

New Hampshire, Medium Area

First Contact: Woman, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, uhh, if you hold on a minute I'll get someone.

Answering Phone: Young male, super friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, we actually don't have a pipe this year but our park is really good. We have a bunch of shots up if you want to check out our website so you can take a look at everything. It's all pretty great because we just had a slew of big events. For features we have a few flat rails, flat down rails, C boxes and some others. We also have 8 x 10 wall boards and a small and large kicker.

SAM: So you have a bunch then it seems.

Staff: Yeah, we got a lot out there in the big park. We also have some small park features scattered out on some beginner trails for people just getting started. You sound like you know what you're talking about so the bigger park will surely suit what you're looking for. Is there anything else I can help you with?

SAM: You pretty much answered everything I was looking for. Thank you.

Staff: Anytime, have a good day.

Rating: 8

Comment: This guy really wanted to make sure he could be as helpful as possible. He had a lively tone in his voice and made a big deal of what his mountain had to offer which always makes a difference. Minus a couple of points for not giving me the web address.

North Carolina, Small Area

First Contact: Woman, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK. Actually hang on one second and I'll send you over to someone who knows a little more about that.

Answering Phone: Young female suffering from a really long day from the sounds of it.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Well, um, we got some C rails and some box rails, a couple kickers. That's pretty much what we have.

SAM: OK then, simple enough, thanks.

Staff: Yeah, sure anytime.

Rating: 3

Comment: She was hurting in the energy department and really wasn't up for making this conversation warm and fuzzy which unfortunately calls for the lower score. Even a "have a great day" would have boosted the points.

Minnesota, Medium Area

First Contact: Woman, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, well I don't have too much to tell you. Let's see, I'm just looking over my snow report. "Park is open with lots of new features including the halfpipe. The halfpipe will be closed for the XXX competition to the general public until 1 p.m. today. Snow coverage is good and strong." Oh well, that was yesterday, so uhh yeah, it's all open.

SAM: All right then, so you do have a pipe.

Staff: We have a superpipe!

SAM: Right, sorry. It sounds good though. Do you have beginner areas or is it one big park or...?

Staff: We have a few smaller areas behind the bigger park for beginners, but the main park itself has lots of stuff in it, so you should be able to find something.

SAM: Perfect, thanks so much.

Staff: Oh you're welcome, have a nice day.

Rating: 7

Comment: I love the direct read off the snow report. At least you know the information you're getting is official. Even though the explanation wasn't extensive the woman was very polite and patient.

Wisconsin, Small Area

First Contact: Automated machine, chose guest services.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: What do you want to know?

SAM: (This question seems to be hard for some... ) I'm looking for some general information, what features you have, any beginner areas, any halfpipes...

Staff: OK, well first of all...we have 28 runs total. Thirty percent is beginner, 40 percent intermediate and 20 percent expert. We do have a terrain park with nine table tops, five boxes and seven rails. We also have a halfpipe.

SAM: OK you have any beginner areas?

Staff: Yeah, we do. We have three bunny hills, a couple learning areas and multiple lesson packages and three magic carpets. (Long pause. In the meantime, I'm trying to picture my magic carpet slide I could do.)

SAM: Oh, sorry, I meant in your terrain park.

Staff: Oh. Um, yeah, we have a few beginner features on some of the beginner trails. That's it.

SAM: OK, thanks.

Staff: You're welcome, bye.

Rating: 4

Comment: The girl sounded like she was raised by automated parents. Didn't quite register my specific park question but attempted to give a solid general overview, which at least deserves an average rating.

Michigan, Medium Area

First Contact: Woman, friendly enough.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: What would you like to know? (I think that's where you're supposed to come in...)

SAM: Just the general description, what features you have, if you have a beginner area, that kind of thing.

Staff: OK, well we have a superpipe that stands alone and then we have a terrain park with eleven rails, two huge table tops, a step up and step down and five jumps.

SAM: That sounds good to me. Do you have a beginner area?

Staff: We have a ten-acre beginner area for everyone, which has its own chairlift.

SAM: Oh, I meant a beginner terrain park area.

Staff:Ohhh OK, no we don't, sorry.

SAM: OK, well thanks though for all the info.

Staff: You're welcome, bye.

Rating: 4

Comment: The whole "what do you want to know thing" definitely dropped the score a bit. She easily rambled off a perfectly fine answer after I gave a description of exactly what I wanted to know. Have faith and throw some excitement in there!

Illinois, Medium Area

First Contact: Young female, a bit short.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, um, well what are you looking for?

SAM: Some general info basically.

Staff: OK, well do you have Internet access?

SAM: Yes I do.

Staff:If you go on our site and click on terrain park you'll be able see all the rail and jib features that we have. I don't have the report right in front of me but you'll be able to see everything on the website.

SAM: OK, so that's the best way to go.

Staff: Yeah, it is.

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: Yup, bye.

Rating: 3.5

Comment: OK, so she attempted to keep it easy for both of us by pointing me to the website yet she never mentioned what the website was! She also could have tried to crack a smile or a friendly tone somewhere in there. Harsh I know, but come on, work with me here!

Medium Area, PA

First Contact: Automated machine, chose option guest services.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Do you have Internet access?

SAM: Yeah I do.

Staff: and you'll be able to see what we have. You can look at the whole mountain or you can click on the terrain park and get some detailed descriptions. You should be to find what you're looking for.

SAM: OK, thanks.

Staff: You're welcome, bye.

Rating: 4

Comment: A little speedy for my taste but she did get right to the point. Sounded as though she was in a rush, which unfortunately makes me feel unimportant.

Large Area, CA

First Contact: Automated machine. Lost myself in the automated maze, chose operator

Answering Phone: Young female, nothing but laid back and happy sounding

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Oh, you can look it up on line and it'll show you pictures with an interactive map and stuff. Everything is open except the small X part so the majority is open.
SAM: All right, well do you have beginner areas?
Staff: Yeah. Yeah we do. If you go to the interactive map you can click on certain areas and see like the complete description. It's actually really cool. You could also take these like interactive runs and go down the mountain with a camera, it's pretty awesome.

SAM: Oh nice, so that'll basically answer all my questions?

Staff: Yeeaah, it'll give you everything, definitely check it out.

SAM: Perfect, thanks.

Staff: Oh yeah, no problem. Thanks for calling.

Rating: 7

Comment: Short, but very sweet. Exactly the same scenario as the previous call but completely opposite answer. The girl was patient and had some energy. She described what was on the website and exactly what I'd be able to find out. No mention of the web address so minus a few but over all great attitude. Makes the customer feel nothing but welcomed.

Large Area, UT

First Contact: Automated machine

SAM: Stated question

Answering phone: Woman, really friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, we have...well the best way to check it out is to go on the website and you'll be told all about the parks. It's and there's a tool bar there that says park and pipes. I think we have five I want to say. They'll list descriptions on there and what exactly is in each park. There's X park, Y park, Z park and a bunch others. That's the best way to find out which park you'll want to ride and it'll tell you the chair lifts of how to get to each one and so on.

SAM: OK, perfect I can do that.

Staff: Yeah it's really simple and it'll tell you everything.

SAM: Thanks so much.

Staff: Oh, of course, anytime.

Rating: 8

Comment: The big points go to the patience and sincerity of this guest services rep. The woman obviously knew she couldn't recite everything about the five different parks but knew her website was well equipped to do the job. Super nice and told me precisely where to go to find it all.

Medium Area, NV

First Contact: Woman, friendly and patient

SAM: Stated Question

Staff: Yes, okay. We have a terrain park and it is open and groomed. (Reeeally long silence. Hoping for a bit more...)

SAM: Okay, umm...

Staff: What else did you want to know? We don't have the superpipe. We just have some rails so it is small.

SAM: Okay, so if it's smaller I'm guessing...

Staff: Hold on, let me find out for you. (Now she seemed determined to help me. I like it.)

Staff: Actually, it's pretty large. It's got rails, table tops and boxes and about twelve different features.

SAM: Oh, all right, so you do have a bunch. Do you have a beginner area for it?

Staff: We have a beginner area, a great beginner area. There are two lifts and with first-timers they can actually just buy a ticket for those two lifts to start with. It's great. (I don't think she knows I meant terrain park beginners... either way, she made a good comeback)

SAM: Well, good to know thanks.

Staff: Of course, anytime, so come and see us!

Rating: 6

Comment: The beginning was a bit rough but she put her customer service hat on and found out what she didn't know so she could help me which definitely deserves some points. She was also in a great mood and had some energy at the end. Thumbs up.

Medium Area, WA

First Contact: Woman, friendly, transferred to "across the street"

SAM: Stated question

Staff: What did you want to know?

SAM: Just the general description of what you have in your park.

Staff: Um, I've not been over there so why don't I transfer you to the rental shop where those guys have been around so they could tell you.

Answering Phone: Young male, sounded like he's been locked in the rental shop for days.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Uhh, pretty much just your basic park. It starts out with a 40-foot booter and a 30 on the other side. Uh, it goes down to some boxes and a bunch of rails. Then it, ahh, goes to a table top down a bit to another booter and finishes off with a couple rolls.

SAM: Well, okay then. Any beginner areas in there?

Staff: Uh, no not really, that's pretty much what we have.

SAM: That's fine, works for me. Thanks so much.

Rating: 5

Comment: Transferred around the switchboard until someone knew the answer, but at least I got it. The guy could have used a Red Bull, but he tried his best. Besides, it wasn't even his department, so props to him!

Small Area, SD

First Contact: Young female, friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Ohh, Okay, what do you want to know?

SAM: Just a little bit about what you have.

Staff: Okay, let me pull up the web page here. Our halfpipe is currently closed. They're trying to get enough snow to cut it at the moment. In the terrain park there are three, uh, I don't know a whole lot about this. There is a 24-foot flat rail, a 12-foot rainbow box and a table top. And then there's a 16-foot double barrel rail and a 28-foot battleship and a 20-foot C.

SAM: Good stuff, it seems like you have a variety.

Staff: Yeah there's seven features in our park. Is there anything else you needed to know?

SAM: Well are there any beginner areas in the park?

Staff: Yeah, the first couple I mentioned are the smaller features. We also have terrain park lessons for beginners.

SAM: Oh nice. Well thanks for all the info.

Staff: Anytime.

Rating: 6.5

Comment: I checked out the website and she definitely read right off it so at least it was all accurate despite her minor lack of energy. However, she's the first to mention terrain park lessons which I know for a fact many of the areas also offer.

Large Area, NM

First Contact: Automated machine, recited an automated novel. Waited for the operator.

Answering Phone: Young female, patient and friendly.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: The what?

SAM: Your terrain park.

Staff: Oh, OK, one moment.

Staff: Um, info on the terrain park is that we have a couple rails in there and some boxes and some jumps. We're waiting on a cat to get in there before people can go in. They've just been having some cat problems this morning but it should be open by about 11:30 and if not definitely tomorrow. So you'll be all set by tomorrow.

SAM: OK, good to know. (Really long pause)

Staff: So yeah, that's about it for our terrain park.

SAM: Okay then, thanks so much.

Rating: 5

Comment: The girl was very pleasant and was trying to help. However, the limited information left me with only a vague idea of their park.

Large Area, OR

First Contact: Automated machine, chose operator

Answering Phone: Woman, friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Oh, onnne moment. (Transferred somewhere)

Answering Phone: Young female, really nice and enthusiastic.

SAM: Restated question

Staff: Umm, uh, well what exactly would you like to know, I mean well yes, we have them, ha ha, they surround the X lift. Ummm yes so what else... we have rails and jumps and boxes. They've really been working on the pipe a lot so it's real nice. I think it's 13-foot walls. Yeah, it looks like a good time. Was there anything really specific you were looking for?

SAM: Yeah, I mean I was just looking for some general information on what you have. I wasn't sure if there were any beginner areas or anything like that.
Staff: Oh OK, as far as like the beginner park goes there are just some smaller features in that same area. Umm, yeah it's all pretty good, ya know what I mean.

SAM: Ha ha, yeah I do, sure.

Staff: Well when were you guys planning on coming up?

SAM: I'm not sure, maybe this weekend. We've just never been there before so I wanted to check out what you had.

Staff: Oh all right. Well I mean it's nice and sunny today with a little bit of wind but it's supposed to be sunny Thursday and beautiful on Friday and then snow on Saturday. So what I think you girls should probably do is skip work on Friday, or school or whatever and come on up because it'll definitely be a good time.

SAM: Ha ha all right I'll keep that in mind. Thank you.

Staff: Oh yeah, anytime. Hope you all decide to come on up!

Rating: 8

Comment: So maybe the information was not extensive but this girl had an awesome attitude. She could have given up by just reciting a sentence or two. Instead, she added some energy and kept the conversation going to make her hill sound as good as she could for a question she wasn't exactly sure of. That's what I like to hear!

Large Area, BC

First Contact: Operator, put through to guest services.

Answering Phone: Young male, super laid back, patient and friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, yup. We don't have a halfpipe, which is kind of unfortunate. For right now though... I was up there yesterday and there's a series of five kickers and then on each of them there is a small, medium and large take off and the landing of course. When you get down past that there are some rails and a couple of kinks, a C curve and I think maybe a rainbow and some other things. Let me just read here what it says on the web page. Terrain park, here we go... Ookay features in order. One large, medium and small 30-foot step down table, there's an extra large medium and small step on those. Then there's an extra large medium wall ride. The cannon I don't think is out yet. There's a large ground rail and an extra large reverse kink rail. After that we have a large halfpipe rail, large up rail, this mellow curve rail... (I had to stop this poor guy.)

SAM: So you have a lot of rails then? Ha ha.

Staff: Ha ha, yeah you could say we have a few.

SAM: OK, so to save you some breath, I can get this all off the website if I needed to?

Staff: Yeah, you definitely can. You'll also be able to see a bunch of pictures of most of our features.
SAM: Are there any beginner areas?

Staff: Yup. There's actually two. The beginner park and then the one I was listing. The beginner one is near the bottom of the X chair with a couple boxes and couple rails so you don't have to do a super jump to get up on them. There's something for everyone.

SAM: Yeah it seems so, thanks a lot.

Rating: 8
Comment: All right, this guy gets the award for most thorough answer. He could have kept going unless I cut in. He put some effort in to make it personal and really wanted to tell me as much as he could, obviously. Solid job.

Medium Area, WA

First Contact: Automated machine, chose resort representative

Answering Phone: Young female. Her accent was pure valley girl, so insert that voice below. SAM: Stated question

Staff: Umm OK, like what did you want to know?

SAM: Just some general information about it all.

Staff: Suure. Um, I don't normally get these kinds of phone calls. We have like 60 runs. What else can I tell you? We have two terrain parks. Most of the lifts are high speed. We have the outbacks with a bunch of really cool double blacks. So, like, I mean, ahh, ya know...

SAM: Well, OK, I was sort of looking for information specific to your terrain parks.

Staff: Ummm, well, I'm, like, not quite sure. Um, there's rides and like a halfpipe and stuff. (I'had to step in.)

SAM: Can I go to your website to get some more information about the parks? Would that be helpful to me?

Staff: Um, like, I'm not quite... well I don't like know. I don't know if there's like pictures and stuff. I meeean like yeah. Let me look here. I don't know if there's any more I can tell you. I don't ride on it so I mean I don't know what we have really.

SAM: All right, well no worries. Maybe I'll just check out your site and hopefully get some other info on it. I've just never been up there before so I just wanted to check it all out.

Staff: Ohhh, gnarly you've never been here before? Where do you live?

SAM: About a half hour south. I guess I've never had the chance to make my way up to your mountain.

Staff: Well, like, yeah like, I mean sorry I couldn't be more helpful. If you come up on the weekend though, parking gets pretty busy so you can park at the XX chair and get a free lift up to the base lodge. That'll be the easiest thing for you to do. Saturday and Sunday morning there's actually a ticket kiosk down there and if you're a student you can bring your student card and get a sweet discount.

SAM: Oh nice, that's prefect to know. Thanks so much. (Like awesome!)

Rating: 7
Comment: Wow. I'm not sure how to describe this conversation, entertaining to say the least. Besides sniffing too much nail polish remover, the girl made a comeback at the end and tried to connect with me as much as she could. Terrain Park knowledge, not so much, but energetic effort scores her the 7.

Large Area, BC

First Contact: Automated machine, chose general inquiries.

Answering Phone: Woman, friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Okay, what about it?

SAM: Just some general information about it. What features you have, if you have a beginner area?

Staff: OK, just one second. (Long pause) OK, we have a beginner, intermediate and expert skiing. The green runs are off X chair.

SAM: Oh, well I was wondering more specifically about your terrain park.

Staff: OK, we have a frame box and we have the rail boxes. We have quite a few of them, eight acres of terrain. The park features many boxes and rails and jumps. If you go on our website at you'll be able to see everything. It's under "mountain" and then click on "terrain park."

SAM: OK, that will work. Thanks so much.

Staff: You're welcome.

Rating: 5.5
Comment: This woman had a hard time understanding exactly what I was looking for and definitely is not a big park rider by any means. Yet she tried her best and knew sending me to the website would help us both out. When in doubt, point to the website!
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