What's Hot in Terrain Parks?

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At SAM's annual Cutter's Camps, the latest trends are revealed and discussed.



There’s no better place to find out what is trending in the world of freestyle terrain than at SAM’s Cutter’s Camp. Last spring, over 200 of the industry’s best and brightest in the terrain park world gathered at Mount Snow, Vt., and Timberline, Ore., to talk about the issues and opportunities for parks both big and small.

What is trending in your park? Add your comment, below.


1. All Grown Up. Everyone in the park world is doing more to come together on the essentials of terrain park operation. Risk management is no longer a scary word to a park manager—it’s just part of the job. Features are starting to look very consistent from coast to coast. Jump regulation (or potential ASTM standards) might take some guesswork out of construction, but debate continues as to whether we are making parks boring by making them all the same, or more user friendly for our guests who will experience similarity from one area to the next.

2. All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun. Parks with giant halfpipes, 10-foot-tall rails, and 60-foot jumps are going extinct. Small to medium parks are where guests are flocking because it’s fun and easy to play on the features. These parks can make or break our guests’ ability to be turned into long-term users, and de facto word-of-mouth marketers. Trending this season are more original designs, especially creative smaller jib/tranny features like bowl skating on snow. There is less focus on money booters and more focus on fun—riding from top to bottom and multiple hit features.

3. Half (pipe) Full or Half (pipe) Empty. Halfpipes at 22 feet are expensive, bulky, eat up snowmaking resources and are often empty. Unless you host the Dew Tour or similar, it’s pointless. A 13-foot mini pipe requires half the snow, half the time, but fills up with many more guests.

4. How Low Can You Go? Rails and boxes found in big parks will get longer and longer, yet will be closer to the ground and give the appearance of being less intimidating.

5. Machinery Marvels. Equipment is adapting to push the level of what we can do on snow. There has been a huge progression in the last 10 years as far as the features we can now build. Machinery will progress even further, with added technology in snow cats that will aid in efficiency and consistency.

6. Terrain-Based Learning (TBL). Our industry needs to collectively create a sport that has a high success rate. Learn-to ride/slide programs and outreach to new skiers and snowboarders followed by retention of those clients is key. Joe Hession’s TBL program focuses on fun and will get families to come back.

It’s hard to change the 20+-year-old teaching system that has proven successful in the eyes of traditionalists. But if everyone got on the same page and properly implemented the TBL space and methodology, this program could be a game changer. As with terrain parks—it’s all in and do it right, or don’t bother.

7. Events 2.0. Watch for fewer big park events, and more creative events like Holy Bowly, banked slaloms and others that broaden participation. Superpipe or big air contests are too exclusionary. Less intimating events bring the fun back and allow more guests to participate.

What is trending in your park? Add your comment, below.


Many thanks to the following park gurus for help in compiling this first annual Cutter’s Camp Trending List: Logan Stewart, Timberline, Ore.; Keith Kreischer, Nashoba Valley, Mass.; Elia Hamilton, Peak Resorts; Clayton Shoemaker, Snow Summit, Calif.; Ken Gaitor, Snowshoe, W.V.; Kevin Laverty, Vail Resorts, Colo.; Jay Scambio, Boyne Resorts; JP Martin, Park Diggers; and Joel Rerko, Seven Springs, Pa.


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Comments

Whats Hot in Terrain Parks

Pretty much spot on with all of these assessments. Heres a few opinions and additions for the list... For snowboarders the "smaller" features and "fun" style you allude to is called mini-shred. Although lower to the ground and on smaller obstacles the technical bar is still pretty high. It's a pretty cool movement. If you want to see it just search for "Think Thank" on Youtube ... they are a production company with 10 years of mini shred under their belt and obviously masters of the craft. Although we have seen many more contests over the past few seasons in Utah there are not as many "local" contests. Other than a couple of long held standards most are sponsored by bigger companies; 32 Boots, Analog, Neff, Rome SDS. Why? Insurance costs are the prime culprit. Its hard for a small shop to pony up the cash for 3 million in insurance. So yes more contests but unfortunately it seems less locally ran contests. Finally I would add the biggest trend is constant change in the parks. Gone are the days of setting a rail in November and digging it up in April. Resorts have to constantly switch set-ups around to keep the kids happy. I think part of the reason for this is the advent of the park edit happy snow culture. PCMR can't turn out edits all season on the same features as that would be boring to watch by time oh say December rolled around. Switching up the park is a great way to keep kids coming back for more week after week.

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