Who is Qualified to Certify Terrain Parks--A Ski Industry Veteran Speaks Out

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UPDATE TO BLOG: This week's Blog Patrol is brought to you by John Rice, General Manager, Sierra-at-Tahoe.

Dear SAM,

In my original Speak Out I made a few assumptions that were factually 
incorrect, and I would like to apologize to USTPC and founding member Jim McNeil about them. To set the record straight: In my first 
point, I suggested that USTPC board members have testified in court 
against resorts. While research and published reports authored by 
board members have been cited by plaintiff's experts, the USTPC members 
have not engaged in litigation, and I stand corrected on this 
point. Following that, my assumption that founding members make
 part of their living in court was also incorrect. My knowledge 
that their work has been cited led me to erroneously assume that 
they were involved in litigation.

 I believe the current dialogue is healthy and will lead to further
 discussions that will help move the needle on best terrain park
 practices for the industry.

In light of the above information, I have amended points 1, 2, 4 and the final paragraph to reflect the information above.

September 13

There has been a recent flurry of emails originating from a group called the USTPC (United States Terrain Park Council) that purports to provide an "open, collaborative environment to promote research and education related to resort terrain parks." The organization claims to be able to "inspect and certify" terrain parks at resorts, for a fee. They further claim to be "litigation-neutral" and claim they bar their officers and board members from "voluntary participation in snow sport related litigation." The most recent email they claim to have "compiled the industry best practices into a 2 hour educational seminar." As a ski industry veteran of 35 years, pioneer of terrain park development, general manager of a resort, and expert witness/consultant, I have some very serious concerns about the true purpose of this organization's goals and objectives. Many ski industry stakeholders have similar concerns and believe that this organization needs a closer look. There are five areas that I feel need to be highlighted.

1) Some of the founding members are engineers, and have conducted studies regarding terrain feature design. These studies have been cited by expert witnesses in cases against resorts. Currently, ASTM is studying the proposals to create standards for terrain features. While the science debate will continue, it would be in the best interests of the industry to allow all sides to be heard in a neutral environment like ASTM. There are so many variables involved in terrain park use, it might be premature to accept a single point of view.

2) Many people in the ski industry question the experience of the members of the USTPC. It would be prudent for the organization to present their years of experience in design, construction and maintenance of terrain parks. My personal experience in this area is that everyone who has ever built a jump or jumped is an expert, or claims to be one. The years of on-hill experience, coupled with their background and understanding of the issues relative to terrain park use is key to establishing credibility. For a group to be able to "certify" a jump or park, it would be important to establish their credibility and experience prior to selling certification services.

3) The organization claims to be able to inspect and then certify terrain parks. While it is unknown what science the USTPC relies on to certify jumps through their SMART PARKS program, two of their board members have written position papers on what they would consider to be safe jump design. The science debate that currently exists between engineers centers on the ballistic physics model, and the effects of the human component on the outcome of a jump. Both sides have proposed theories supporting their position and do not agree with each other. There are hundreds of variables in winter sports, human variables and those of nature that skew ballistic models. When the human and environmental variables are ignored, engineering principles can be applied to predict outcomes. Skiing and riding, and even more so jumping, involves constant interaction of the user with the terrain, weather, gear and conditions. You cannot engineer these variables into a design and guarantee a safe outcome. (What cannot be refuted by engineering, however, is the fact that people who land on their head rather than their feet have a significantly higher chance of serious injury).

4) Plaintiff's experts claim to have created a safer jump design, and that resorts refuse to embrace their jump style. The jump design is referred to by some as a "turtleback" design or "mound style" jump. The criticism leveled at ski resorts in terrain park litigation centers on charges that resorts do not use engineered designs or standards, create design flaws, and rely on liability shield laws after accidents. I have not met a park designer or resort operator that doesn't hold guest safety at the top of their priorities. The turtleback jump design proposed by plaintiff's experts may reduce EFH, but does not guarantee safety. If a jumper lands on their head and/or neck instead of their feet, the turtleback jump is no "safer" than any other jump design.

5) As the sport has evolved, the generally accepted industry practices have evolved as well, and are available to the resort industry through a number of existing channels. The various associations that make up the US Ski and Snowboard Industry (NSAA, SIA, PSIA, NSP and USSST) have participated in the terrain park dialogue for years. Members of these associations have made significant contributions, participated in field studies, created education and awareness programs, attended seminars and workshops, and produced training and resource guides to communicate "best practices" to the ski resort operators who design, build and maintain terrain parks. The USTPC has not been part of any of these efforts, yet promotes itself as the source to "educate resort management and terrain park patrons as to the best practices in the industry." The first full time parks showed up at US resorts in the mid to late 1980s, and have gone through many changes through the last 25 years. While terrain park design and use is still following the natural evolution of a sport, much has been learned that has helped shape what are today's generally accepted industry practices. Those practices are currently shared among resort operators through regional NSAA seminars and roundtables, SAM's Cutter's Camp program, through various publications including the NSAA Freestyle Terrain Notebook and the PSIA/AASI Park and Pipe Instructor's Guide. There are also excellent resources available through 3rd party companies like Snow Park Technologies, who can bring resources to resorts who may not be up to speed on industry practices. Terrain park practices have been the topic of many panel discussions and presentations since the early 1990s.

It is in the best interests of the stakeholders of our industry to be aware of the resources available to make good decisions. There are a lot of unanswered questions about the organization's promises to keep resorts out of court, or be considered litigation neutral. Terrain Parks are an important part of the winter sports landscape, and all stakeholders will benefit from new information that can help resorts make informed decisions regarding park operations. I am not convinced that having parks certified by a third party benefits a resort, when there is so much unsettled debate regarding the issues. Perhaps the ASTM efforts to pull all the best engineering and operational information together will help. I am an advocate of getting the best information available to the table, and if the USTPC can participate in that through the ASTM, I welcome their input to that debate.

John A. Rice
Sierra-at-Tahoe \


Don't Tell Me My Duty; Tell Me Yours

I have been part of the ski industry for over 30 years. I define the ski industry to also include skiers and snowboarders (without a desire to manage or design a ski area) and moms of skiers and snowboarders, moms that buy ski passes, moms that buy lift tickets, moms that rent condos, moms that book hotels, moms that make purchases in the ski shops, moms that provide transportation, moms that frequent the dining facilities, moms that spectate the competitions, moms that chaperone the school ski clubs, moms that buy the ski lessons, moms that tip the ski instructors, and moms that encourage, facilitate, and congratulate the passion. It has been implied in several posts that plaintiff lawyers make money. What this forum fails to give same weight is defendant lawyers’ efforts to throw out court cases based on ski area operators’ immunity. As a mom of a skier and snowboarder, I expect the ski area operator to do everything that is reasonably and financially possible to make all ski areas safe for skiing, especially those areas marketed to the demographic of my children. I am offended by any participant in this forum that doesn’t use their role in the ski industry to evaluate skier and snowboarder injuries and position themselves to avoid like injuries in the future. Terrain park signage, instructional guidelines, and videos are a ski area operator’s way of defining (and documenting) my end of the bargain. How do you define (and document) yours?


Wow, interesting reading the artical and many of the comments. I'm a ski area owner, and an engineer, and a ski patrol director, and been in the business for 32 years...as well as running a very sucessful quality management certification thank you. Part of the reason I read and follow these things is that I'd like to know more than I do about terrain park design.....I've talked to a lot of guys that seem to do a bang up job of designing there park and most of it based on their feel, riding experience, and creativity. I've read the NSAA guidelines (somewhat disapointing in my opinion), and I've heard all of the inferences to the potential devlopement of an ASTM standard- which incidently will have to include some measurables if its going to approach being a standard. Engineers can solve very complex problems that incorporate some very complex variables. It seems in terrain park consideration we are talking about less variables than are involved in takeing a casting from design to production (1800+variables) and I'm sure that putting astronauts on the moon took more than a few variables into mind. The variables that come to mind for me are friction, entry angles, angles of decent, mass of rider, wind direction and velocity, angle of exit, position of landing, angle of landing surface and a few more that I dont have the energy to think about right now. Certifications are usually more relavant to the results of one set of variables being measured against a standard. In the manufacturing industry we think in terms of a given piece, batch, or production run meeting a certificate of conformance to customer (or industry standard) specifications. These certifications are generally based on a sample or series of samples taken from a process that is deemed as one under control and operating with a predictable and normal distribution. Quite a few engineers don't consider this - and as I said I am an engineer. The conditions on the snow do not, in my opinion, meet the criterias of being predicable and haveing a normal distribution . In short I think the idea that you could certify a Park is somewhat out in left field. What could be done is to "register" Park Management to being in conformance to quality management practices related to terrain park design. Quality Management practices, as would be related to terrain park design can be devloped that have zero distraction from the creative ablities. Like it or not where we are heading, in my opinion and as an industry, is the need for the folks who may be good at the quantitaive side ( engineers) and the folks on the Park creative side (park guru/designers) to start getting their heads together.

Great quote from Mr. Petrozzi

In the world of risk management, it means that the burden of responsibility in a terrain park is split between the participant and the operator. Making sure the park is built to commonly-held (there are no formal guidelines) quality standards is one half of the equation and, Petrozzi says, educating participants to use features more appropriately is how Booth Creek is tackling the other half.

Mark Petrozzi, risk manager, Booth Creek Resorts

Next Gen

Young Gun, I am sure others on this forum would like to protect their identity for multiple reasons. I think the biggest problem "old school" park people are having is this. The USTPC wants to certify your park. Think about that and how it could not only effect your resort but all of the others who may not be certified. Another issue is they offer this cert with no real proof as to the outcome of their mathematical theory. This and some of the statements they have made by a group that has no real practical experience in terrain park operations. It may start with their "turtle back" or "step over" table top design but where will it end. Will you still have the freedom to build some cool step up hip table thingamajig if you do not meet the EFH that your park was certified for. The USTPC needs a good dose of reality, just because the math adds up does not prove it will safe or fun. Sign on with them and let all of us old mean bastards how it works out.

The Next Generation of Terrain Park Designers

I have sat back and watched this conversation unfold and now that it seems to have settled down, I thought I would throw my two cents in. I am young(ish) terrain park designer (I won't divulge where or what my name is as the terrain park designers on this forum would probably punch me at the next cutters camp, seriously, they seem really mean). Although I can understand why some park designers would resist what this organization is doing, I am very surprised not to hear a more balanced voice of representation. I feel that there are a few angry, non-conformist and frankly very immature "old school" park guys who are making it their goal to speak for all of us. We know who they are, but they anonymously post very rude things behind the veil of their computer. Its really immature. Say what you want, but it seems that the UStpc people at least sign their names to all their posts. As a young and hopefully up-and-coming terrain park designer, I actually really appreciate the fact that they have pulled together the industry best practices in one place and put it online for anyone to see. Maybe they aren't the absolutely most experienced people in the world on this subject, but who else is doing this?? I have attended one Cutters Camp and although it is unbelievably educational and there is no experience like being around others in the same field, there was never a booklet of best practices that someone just getting into this industry could read. I have read the NSAA's Freestyle Resource Handbook from front to back, and the UStpc's online criteria takes it all MUCH farther. The UStpc also seem to have worked hard to get designers involved, but much like how they have not participated in ASTM meetings, they would rather just whine about how, unless you have years of cat experience, your opinion doesn't matter. So... on behalf of 1 terrain park designers out there, I want to say that I actually appreciate what the UStpc is doing and find it valuable. They clearly have an uphill battle with all those angry old park guys trying to speak for an entire industry, but I for one am looking forward to the help.

Hey Adrian

"it borders on defamation. John should be ashamed of himself for writing such libelous trash." - Adrian Wisniewski

...actually I think that's what people call libel. -Heather LaHart

For a group "not involved with lawsuits", your group sure jumped on the "Watch out or I will sue you" train. Go back under the rock you crawled out from, USTPC. Nobody wants your help!

ps. getting your friends and Randoms to post in your defense is sad and unprofessional.


I saw the original post (which has since been removed) and it did not appear that the person was "pretending" to be someone else. Could it be possible that there might be 2 Pat Morgans in this world that follow SAM on line? \

Call Out

Pat Morgan of Holiday Valley here, to whoever posted under my name, that was classless, a fellow manager in the industry just called me to alert me to this

To Mr Rice, great article, to USTPC good luck, you'll need it

And to whoever posted under my name, feel free to explain yourself, via 716 699 3916 or pmorgan@holidayvalley.com

Keep it in the industry

"What the USTPC has been trying to accomplish (clearly unsuccessfully) has been to get all of the e bot's around the nation to put their two cents in and help shape the "industry best practices". If we can all agree on best practices, and implement them throughout our parks, then we will all be on the same page and be more protected." ----------------------------------------------------

Adrian, the industry is already doing this and has been for some time. Your theories on design right or wrong have been considered and discussed before you had the idea to begin with. Putting "science" behind your theory (by the way jumps like yours have been designed and in use for some time with no greater level of success relatively) doesn't make it different then what has been accomplished thus far, rather it just makes it sound more serious. I am all for growing our depth of understanding through science and experience but you're not really bringing anything new to the table. I see you saying that you want the industry experts to drive this but how it comes across is that you want all of us "industry experts" to see the truth in and support your ideas as the best way to do business and admit the flaws in our own practices. I would say, in general, we already do it better than you. The truth is that we don't need a new regulatory body to tell us how we should think of these things. Science, theory, experience or not your design is only safe if the rider executes their mechanics accurately. This is true of all jump designs currently employed at resorts across the country. If industry leaders had started USTPC from a place of credibility then maybe you would have had a chance of gaining respect. As it is, in haste, you insulted the hand that could have lifted you up and should by now see that your organization has no support. Trying to force us to listen is/was a mistake. If you actually mean what you say then understand you might understand that you're trying to plug yourself into a place that you dont belong. It would be a mistake for any industry professional to join with you at this time and for many "e bots" out there it could prove a poor career choice. At heart you have a good idea and probably have good intentions but you completely failed to recognize and give respect to the industry for having already done what you're saying you want to do, unite builders/designers/users/resorts in an effort to improve knowledge and quality. Further more you should take it to heart that some key plaintiffs experts have been a part of your support structure in whatever capacity and that is a theat to ski area defense. E bot pointed to cutters camp, I agree this is a program that for near 10 years has been leading the way in the effort to share ideas and grow awareness helping resorts improve their products. By the way there are industry best practices, they are sound and always improving. The best practices currently in place enable resorts to operate parks reasonably safe and affordably with creativity. Your turtle back jump design leaves little room for creativity both in design and use. If anything I would reccomend that the industry create their own organization to study and supprt these efforts with out anyone from the USTPC involved. Wait... NSAA already does this and is the appropriate resource for resorts to learn from and share ideas like these and oh wait there's cutters camp another highly credible resource for resorts. The level of experience and expertise offered through NSAA and Cutters is staggering. If the industry needed the USTPC you can rest assured that you would be getting respect and support from people on forums like this. sorry and best of luck...


What I was trying to say was that there ARE more men and women out there doing this already... it's called Cutter's Camp. I do not want anyone to think I believe I am the only one- just an example of the dozens of folks who are driving the initiative to improve terrain parks. Truly inspirational people who actually care. For more than ten years, in the east and west, we have been doing this. Hundreds of people have come through, and every person is a part of the process. You are directly challenging that, and it will not be recieved well. The engineering is welcome and often inspiring, but it usually only serves to put into numbers what we already know. It is hard to accept that a formula can translate what our eyes are seeing, and to guide us towards our ultimate goal, when creativity is the cornerstone of a good park. Kind of like using a laser to tell me that water flows downhill, when what I am trying to build is a surf wave.

Kudos to e bot!

e bot (below) hits the nail on the head. We want to do exactly this, but we want to spread it to everyone else out there that may not have access to someone as skilled as him. The sharing of knowledge and experience is the key to keeping terrain parks at the highest level. What the USTPC has been trying to accomplish (clearly unsuccessfully) has been to get all of the e bot's around the nation to put their two cents in and help shape the "industry best practices". If we can all agree on best practices, and implement them throughout our parks, then we will all be on the same page and be more protected. We screwed up by trying to move too fast and jump out in front and in turn, we made it seem like we were pushing an agenda or telling people what to do, but that was absolutely not the intention. From the beginining we wanted it to be an open forum of sharing ideas to formulate the industry best practices. The other side of the USTPC is the engineering side, which I can comfortably say nobody in the US is doing at this level. We know a lot of designers are using some baseline phyics, but if we truly want to protect ourselves, the numbers need to be solid and have reasoning behind them. At the end of all of this, even though the USTPC is taking some major hits to the chin, it's great to see how passionate we all are about protecting parks, protecting creativity and protecting the patrons with every decision we make. We are looking for more e bot's to jump online, take a look at the USTPC Criteria and send comments on our first effort of compiling best practices. Feel free to propose new ones as well. Email me and I will waive the $25 fee to become a member. adrianw@smartparkscertified.com

James McNeil put his foot in it

When, at the end of his rant, Mr McNeil wrote "Sadly, today, too many decisions are left to the lawyers". He lost all credability with 100% of the industry. He cannot expect to start his response by threatening to sue for lible, then make the above quote.

It is sad this business venture will not fly for these people. perhaps if they had worked on their buisness model and talked to business owners prior to their launch they would have come up with a model that worked and was financialy sound. As is the USTPC will invariabley only find money making oppertunties from plantifs lawyers.

Already doing it

But this is already happening! Stop saying that nobody is working on this! The only reason anyone believes that we are not communicating, sharing best practices, or paying attention is because they are living in their own vacuum. I have personally spent countless hours teaching people how to provide fun, responsible terrain parks. Countless hours inspiring conversation about best practices. And countless hours talking about mistakes we have all made that sholdn't be made again. It is always astounding and a little heart warming to see how much energy is actually put into this and the bonds that are created. The key to this approach is treating it like an open forum, by the builders, for the builders. Nobody telling anyone how to do anything, no organizations "getting our backs" (because NOBODY will when push comes to shove.) Just sharing good and bad experiences and determining what direction to head in the future. This is why terrain parks are so successful, better than ever, and considered an essential part of any resort experience. This is also what inspires such passion for the conversation. Kudos John, I have always respected your leadership from the early stages of terrain parks, and your willingness to step out and say what we are all thinking is commendable. Kudos to everyone, including USTPC, for really caring about our future.

And please please please stop misinterpreting what the Salvini case meant.

Not us.

To Boooo! and HRD... We didn't write the comment that you are throwing in our face regarding Scare Tactics. That was written by West Coast Shreddy, not by the USTPC. Although we appreciate their comments, we did not say it, so please don't put words into our mouth. There are a lot of authors below, and only myself and Heather LaHart have been speaking on behalf of the USTPC. Miscommunication is what has gotten us into this mess.


"what if it is out of your hands, the operators, the resorts, and the designers but put in the hands of the insurance agents, lawyers, and govenors? You won't really have a say then."



I want to thank WV below for his/her comments. It's seems we (USTPC) put our marketing foot before our research/communication foot, and for that I want to apologize to anyone in the industry who may have felt like we were trying to move some sort of agenda without including the proper experts (Designers, Cutters, everyone). We felt we had a great idea in bringing together the entire industry to put their two cents in on best practices and engineering, and in an effort to get this rolling for the 2011/12 season, we started sending out e-blast before we had spoken to the people that really matter. I take complete responsibility for this oversight and wish we could take it all back. In an effort to slow things down, and do this the proper way, we are going to take the lead from John Rice, and retract our Certification program for the remainder of the season. Although this is a tough pill to swallow for the team who has put so much time and effort into this, and for the terrain park designers who have been involved since the beginning, I think it's the right thing to do. We are getting the message loud and clear. You guys came from nowhere and seemed to have anoited yourself as some sort of authority. This really was not our intention. We wanted this to be the entire industry putting their two cents in and the one group we were most intent on including, were terrain park designers. Unfortunately we kept moving forward and designers hadn't yet jumped on board and instead of gut-checking and waiting, we just kept moving forward. So this is now an opportunity to take a step back, and do it right. I hope you will see this as an opportunity to get involved and steer the USTPC. From day one, we said that this is going to be the voice of the industry. That was the biggest reason we chose to make it a Non-Profit, so that there couldn't actually be any owners. We have limits on Board of Director terms so that no one person can run it. If you would like to become a Board member and keep an eye on this from the inside and steer the potential direction of USTPC and parks, we would love to get you involved. Feel free to email me at info@usterrainparkcouncil.org or call 303.641.5181.

Thanks for listening. Adrian

proof is on the snow.

Heather, Adrian, James: I think rider had a good point. Can you tell us where to find a certified park this coming winter? This would be a good opportunity to see your recommended work, and possibly see if the injuries per capita have a significant reduction. Would you be willing to provide the readership with a list of parks for us to view?

Finally, what you really want...

Statements like this are what truly define your group.

"but what if it is out of your hands, the operators, the resorts, and the designers but put in the hands of the insurance agents, lawyers, and govenors? You won't really have a say then.

That is what you want, and it is obvious. You make it sound like the industry has turned its head to safety in the the parks. That is certainly not the case. Again, the industry has worked tirelessly on this for years, and you folks are late for the party.

So if every resort pays 25$ all of our problems go away? Because you guys bless our parks? Kind of a sham-less plug, dont you think?

In the end, we still pay our insurance deductible....What kind of insurance do you offer resorts you "certify"? \

USTPC is open to dialouge...

I would like to clarify, that the USTPC is open to ANY and ALL diaglouge at anytime from anyone. Yes, we are another service in the industry, and we are a business. I would like to let everyone know, that all the founders of USTPC currently work on a volunteer basis. Part of the reason that ASTM is considering Terrain Parks to be included in their bylaws is because co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of USTPC proposed to the New Projects committee along side another established terrain park researcher that terrain park design is a topic that ASTM should be looking into. The USTPC is wiling to answer any questions or concerns that anyone may have about its intentions, services, or any other matter. That is why USTPC has been contacting industry professionals, to get that dialogue started and get more input from the industry. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at heatherl@usterrainparkcouncil.org or Adrian Wisniewski at adrianw@smartparkscertified.com. You can also get in touch with us via phone at 303.641.5181

Thanks John

Thanks for the clarification John but it really doesn't change anything for me. The points you brought up that were most at issue for me and others had to due with the certification the USTPC were out pushing on everyone before any dialogue through ASTM began. Hell, the vote to even consider amending the bylaws to include TP's hasn't even finished (tomorrow is the deadline). I am open to dialogue and to whatever the outcome may be through a fair and unbiased process that hopefully the ASTM can bring but ther needs to be more representation from the TP builders and designers. Enough fear mongering from lawyers. The USTPC was just out to make a buck by playing on industry fears. They were never open to dialogue. Kudos to John for opening it up.

proactive is better than reactive

The industry has made leaps and bounds with terrain parks over the last 25 years, especially the last 10. Was terrain park research around 10 years ago? not really...this is a new topic which is sparking a new debate. If you look at the past, the industry has been mostly REACTIVE in regards to terrain park practices (NSAA freestyle handbook after Salvini case), and from my understanding it looks like USTPC is just trying to push the industry to be more on the PROACTIVE side. If there is research out there that indicates there is a possibility that engineering or science could be used more than it is now to further mitigate risk, well in my opinion I think it is a smart thing to hear both sides and have a healthy debate, there might actually be some useful information that comes out of it. I think this is why ASTM is looking into Terrain Park standards, makes sense. I know you say that you will never let something like this happen in the industry, but what if it is out of your hands, the operators, the resorts, and the designers but put in the hands of the insurance agents, lawyers, and govenors? You won't really have a say then. I think what the USTPC is saying is that instead of just pushing it aside, do something about it and do the right thing...look into it instead of looking away from it. Does USTPC have all the answers...prob not? does NSAA or SAM have all the answers, prob. not. But what the industry can do is work together...which has been reluctant to happen in the past, such as closed sessions at NSAA meetings. It seems to me that USTPC is providing the only stage in the industry where everyone can have a voice and be involved...is their criteria or standards the answer? their certifcation process...who knows, but I definitely give them credit for bringing up a topic that has been talked about for years...best practices and standards? I work in a park, I know our procedures, but are those the same at all resorts? I really don't know. There's great info at cutters camp, but not all 350 NSAA resorts attend. But for $25 you can become a member of USTPC and see what USTPC considers to be best practices, a bunch of articles, research, and additional resources. I haven't made up my mind whether I agree with the process or not but I think they got some guts to attempt to do what they are doing. John, I think it was very big of you to clarify your untrue statements....glad to know there are some good people out there.

GM, Sierra at Tahoe

In my original Speak Out I made a few assumptions that were factually incorrect, and I would like to apologize to USTPC and founding member Jim McNeil about them. To set the record straight: In my first point, I suggested that USTPC board members have testified in court against resorts. While research and published reports authored by board members have been cited by plaintiff's experts, the USTPC members have not engaged in litigation, and I stand corrected on this point. Following that, my assumption that founding members make part of their living in court was also incorrect. My knowledge that their work has been cited led me to erroneously assume that they were involved in litigation. I believe the current dialogue is healthy and will lead to further discussions that will help move the needle on best terrain park practices for the industry.

The real issue

The bottom line is that John's "opinion" is what I believe is the sentiment of the industry. As someone mentions below, it is the certification that is the crux of the situation. We can sit here are argue the details all day long, but in the end it wont' be the Pat Morgans of the world making the decision on the issue. It will be the owners and operators of our resorts who understand the true impact this has on our operations. Trust me when I say this, we will NEVER let something like this happen, and it will have nothing to do with the minor details that are being debated here. Also, SAM is "the voice of the ski industry", and they have the right to allow our industry leaders speak their minds. No apologies needed.

being professional and informed

I want to say thank you to Pat Morgan for stating that it is not right for John Rice or SAM to publish incorrect information. It is one thing to not agree with what USTPC is doing or offering and it is a whole other thing to tell lies and misinform the industry about exactly what the USTPC is about. Even though there may be some people who do not agree with it, at least be professional about what you say and make sure you really understand what is happening and what it is all about before you say anything. That's just good business, being professional, and informed.

Comparison between Skate parks and Terrain parks

Southside Slasher,
I just wanted to point out how different skate parks are to terrain parks, particularly when framed in the context of litigations. Most skate parks are stand alone public parks that are made out of unchanging materials (concrete and metal). Terrain parks are typically part of a much larger resort, oftentimes on Forest Service Land, that a patron has paid good money to use. You can put a sign up at at skate park and you are pretty much all set. The same doesn't apply to a ski resort. This is why there are multi-million dollar lawsuits. We wish these suits didn't exist, but they do. Are we the most qualified people in the industry to do this, that can be debated, but we are the only ones trying to open up this conversation to all. Our desire is to have half the Board of Directors be terrain park designers and half be engineers so that the industry is well represented. Unfortunately we haven't met a designer who will get past the chest pounding and hatred to see that we really are trying to help and join us on our evolving goals to support his efforts. Anyone out there want to put down the gun and start making things happen? We have plenty of nerdy engineers who love digging their teeth into equations, we just need you to add your years of experience and on-hill knowhow to the conversation.

The Cert

I think the biggest issue here is the certification. I think it is pretty pretentious on the part of the USTPC to think that just because they think they have a better way of doing things they should automatically be accepted. Without this cert they can get in line with the rest of the park consultants out there, find their clients, refine their methods and share with the industry. With this certification there would many non USTPC affiliated resorts that could be hung out to dry because they did not take the USTPC advice regardless of what J Shealy, Rice, NSAA, ASTM, etc have to say.

SAM Magazine

Over 50 years ago (can you believe it?!), SAM set forth on a mission to be a "forum for the exchange of ideas in the ski industry." And this exchange here is a great example of that. Open and lively dialogue is what makes this industry so great. So it is disheartening to see someone cowardly put forth an opinion under someone else's name. We invite opinions from all sides, but please own them. You do yourself, and your cause, no favors by using someone else's identity. Anonymity is one thing, but posting under a respected manager's name is quite another. Our apologies, Pat. Your stance has been duly noted and appreciated. \


They are doing nothing to actually help keep resorts our of litigation on this front and the fact that they have been paying Jasper Sheely to lie about the facts for all these years is what is putting terrain parks at risk. The Freestyle Terrain Resource Guide is a neutered, pointless guide of ambiguity. There is nothing in there that will protect you. The NSAA and their almighty legal counsel has purposely said nothing in the Resource Guide so that they can't be sued. They put that responsibility squarely on the resorts and it seems like the USTPC is picking up the slack. I have been to the ASTM and ISSS conferences and am much more on the technical side of this, but I can tell you that the lies that the NSAA has been feeding resorts has only been putting terrain parks more at risk. This is where the outrage should be, not towards an organization trying to help resorts.


But NSAA isn't telling us how to build terrain parks. There are some management tools, but that's about it.

More NSAA lies

This completely erroneous article written by Joh Rice is a sham and another way that the NSAA is trying to stomp out anyone and anything that goes against what their lawyers tell them to do. Actually, the NSAA is just a bunch of lawyers. Check out their bios. Their Director of Education.... IS A LAWYER!! How does that make sense?? Why would lawyers want to stomp out an orginazition with intentions as solid as the USTPC?? Because they make money off of lawsuits!! Think about it. If the USTPC does what they say they will do, and protect resorts from getting dragged into bad lawsuits, then the lawyers lose out on a lot of money. Wake up people!! The lawyers have been running this game for way too long and you are all oblivious to it. All of you hardcore park guys who want to fight the man are actually just suckling off the teat! Jasper Sheely has been a pawn for the NSAA for a long time. He has been lying in a court of law and been receiving a fat paycheck all the time. He tells the industry that you cannot use physics in terrain parks but he is lying because the NSAA lawyers have been paying him to do so. Although I do not know where and how the USTPC will end up in all this, I respect them for bringing this long overdue conversation to the forefront. I think we will see two groups come out of this. The old school, get left behind, hardcore park design rat, and the more openminded, professional park designer who looks at things comprehensively. I know which side I would rather be on.

Salvini point...

Just real quick... please don't misrepresent the outcome of the salvini case. The resort was found less than 50% responsible, and after interviewing the jury, the reason was lack of communication between departments, NOT jump design or park layout. Please don't use this case as a point for needing to use physics for jump design. This, from a person who was actually involved in that case.

out of your element

Skateboarding has had parks around since the 70's. As far as i know there is no governing group or certification for Skateparks.
Why do we need one for Terrain Parks?
We borrowed almost every aspect of parks from the skate industry. I would prefer to follow their lead instead of ski instructors and thesis papers.

Where can we find a USTPC certified park?

I'm intersted to see a USTPC park or features. Where can one be found this coming season? What areas are you working with?

professional and truthful

I would lake to say that I respect Dr.James McNeil's decent very much. After reading it and reviewing USTPC's website, it looks as if the majority of other posters are really misinformed about the organization and are saying complete lies. I think that's pretty immature and unprofessional for a person like John Rice to not research the topic of his letter before he wrote it. Dude, John, not a smart move...doesn't really make yourself look too good. Also, all you other haters, understand where you're coming from but come on, at least say truthful statements and don't bash the USTPC and say that they're things that they're not. Respect gets respect...I don't see the USTPC hating on anyone?


Dear SAM,
You recently published on your BLOG PATROL a piece by John A. Rice of Sierra-at-Tahoe regarding the US Terrain Park Council. His 1000 word rant borders on the libelous and as the subject of his vitriol and a founder of USTPC I demand an apology and a retraction. His remarks can be refuted point by point. Had he the courtesy or diligence to talk to anyone connected to USTPC prior to submitting this crime against truth, he may have avoided the following painful rebuke.
Point 1. Had he taken the trouble to get his facts, he would have learned that the founding members of USTPC besides myself and my son, Brodie, are Adrian Wisniewski, Heather LaHart, and Neale Gibbons. Rice state categorically that "some of the founding members are expert witnesses who have testified in court cases against resorts". This is a lie. None of the founders has ever testified in a court case. The USTPC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization which is open to anyone. I would not be surprised if some members have in fact been involved in court cases, we don't track that information, but by our bylaws no director or officer can be so involved and none are. Mr. Rice, your comments are demonstrably false and I believe were intended to do harm to us and our mission. In short you have libeled us. You can defend yourself by stating right here who among the above founders is involved in litigation? If you cannot so identify that person, if you are a man of integrity, you should apologize and publicly retract your claim.
Point 2. Mr. Rice, you say that "to the best of your knowledge....no founding member or representative... have worked at any ski resort... have no on-hill experience whatever" Well, the "best of your knowledge" is pretty poor. Again, had to taken the time to contact anyone at USTPC to get your facts straight you would have learned that one founder (Brodie) co-designed and built the terrain park at Eldora Mountain Ski Resort and another has done extensive sketch up work on terrain park features using his extensive architecture background. We have also received valuable input from several USTPC members (not founders) who have extensive terrain park experience.
For my part, I am a physicist who specializes in computer modeling and has done extensive research on terrain park jumps, have published on the matter in refereed journals and given papers at conferences...the usual academic stuff. I work entirely on a voluntary basis. I make no salary and do not consult with litigants. My research stands on its own merits and I will have more to say on that later. More than ever, I stand by my belief (from infamous slide 12 from my presentation you reference) that the industry needs to reframe the issue of terrain park design around engineering, not litigation. I also seem to be guilty by association with, Dr. Mont Hubbard (NOT a founder or officer of USTPC), who actually has been involved in litigation. You should be aware that Dr. Hubbard and I began collaborating on terrain park physics in 2008 before I was aware of his involvement in lawsuits and before USTPC was created. Frankly, he is a brilliant engineer who the industry would be well advised to listen to more, but as he was involved in lawsuits he is now on the resort's Nixonian "enemies list" so he is ignored... that litigation involvement, by the way, has also barred him from any leadership role in USTPC. Dr. Hubbard believes change will only come though litigation; I don't. But while we disagree on how best to bring more engineering to terrain park design, we agree that more engineering is needed and therefore have jointly sought to get the ski safety committee (F-27) of ASTM involved - thus the joint powerpoint presentation. By the way, Jake Shealy is chairing the Task Group on Terrain Park Jumps and I know he will be adding industry representation in no small part because ASTM (like USTPC) requires all stakeholders have a voice. Have no fears on this point.
Point 3. Mr. Rice states "The organization claims to be able to inspect and then certify terrain parks. While it is unknown what science the USTPC relies on to certify jumps through their SMART PARKS program, two of their board members have written position papers on what they would consider to be safe jump design." Again, had he bothered to simply inquire he could have learned what science the USTPC criteria is based upon, as well as, frankly, what areas where more research is needed. The scientific references are there and he can look them up if he likes. The point is that it is science based (along with sound management). From that the USTPC has created a set of criteria for ``best practices" that are drawn from all over...including the NSAA Freestyle Terrain Notebook, academic researchers (including engineers and epidemeologists), input from Terrain Park designers and builders, pro riders, and others. USTPC wants and encourages more participation, but with the libelous fabrications of Mr. Rice, some TP design/build experts who would want to compliment their vast intuitive skills by bringing quantitative engineering design practices to their craft may be staying away. It is clear from his remarks that Mr. Rice has not even read the USTPC criteria; so he literally does not know what he is talking about.
On the technical issue of changing conditions, this issue has in fact been addressed at some length. Had Mr. Rice taken the trouble to educate himself on the subject or attended any scientific (not industry) conferences like the recent International Society for Skiing Safety in Keystone on the subject that he seems to address with such authority, he could have learned that snow conditions change but within well-known and well-measured values (see the Physics of Skiing by Lind and Sanders), that rider-dependent factors like ``pop" have been measured and actually fall in a fairly narrow range that is easily accounted for in the designs, similarly other rider factors like air maneuvers merely provide a range of drag factors that are similarly bounded and easily accounted for, that curvature in the last few meters of a takeoff can induce a dangerous involuntary inverting rotation, that for a given base slope there is a range of terminal speeds that the landing area needs to accommodate, and that intelligent design of landing surfaces can not only limit the equivalent fall height, but also render all the variables that so consume Rice's attention largely irrelevant. All of this research informs design and the designers who take them into account will make a better safer product. If you are a designer and want to take your craft to the next level, join us. Even the best designers in world can make mistakes if they don't do a proper engineering analysis. How many saw the video of Seb Toutant overshooting the landing at the TTR world snowboard tour event in Austria? Some of the less mature members of snowboarding culture accept such outcomes as just part of the risks of the sport. This nonsense. The outcome of his ride was entirely predictable and it is well past time for the adults in this business to assert some wisdom and take responsibility - especially when the general public is involved. Of course, when it comes to safety, USTPC recognizes that the rider is the most important element, but the TP designer has his role to play in the safety partnership as well.
Point 4. Rice also states "Plaintiff's experts, including engineers who are associated with the USTPC, claim to have created a safer jump design, and that resorts refuse to embrace their jump style." I assume he is again referring to Dr. Hubbard's research on constant equivalent fall height landing surfaces. (As stated previously, his use of the plural "plaintiff's expertS" is simply false.) The constant EFH surface is NOT the same thing as a ``turtle back" though they may appear similar; the Hubbard surface is much smarter, but Rice cannot get past the fact that Hubbard was an expert plaintiff's witness - as if that taints the science he has done. It does not. While I don't agree with pursuing litigation to effect change, at least I can separate Dr. Hubbard's science from his litigation advocacy, because the science is sound. The real beauty of the Hubbard surface is that the EFH is basically insensitive to all the variables that the NSAA trots out as reasons that you can't engineer jumps. TP designers ought to give it a chance.
Point 5. Rice justifiably and rightly recounts the positive evolution of the industry with "Members of these associations have made significant contributions, participated in field studies, created education and awareness programs, attended seminars and workshops, and produced training and resource guides to communicate "best practices" to the ski resort operators who design, build and maintain terrain parks." True. USTPC applauds these efforts and is respectful and totally supportive of all the research and educational programs out there. USTPC has no great pride of authorship, it will shamelessly adopt best practices from where ever they are developed. All this plays into creating a safer terrain park environment, but the evolution is not over and most designers know in their hearts that it isn't. Some see this already and embrace it and others fear the unknown consequences - perhaps believing that their jobs may be at risk if they can't do the ``numbers'' - but the fact is that there will be more ``numbers" in the terrain park designs of the future. It would be best if this evolution could take place through a collaborative open process where terrain park designers and builders talk to and learn from engineers and where engineers talk to and learn from designers. That is why USTPC was created, but litigation fears tend to build walls and shut down communication. I believe this fear is what drives Rice to such extreme polemics.
Rice continues: "I have not met a park designer or resort operator that doesn't hold guest safety at the top of their priorities." I believe that park builders do indeed consider patron safety but only within the limits of their abilities, but they do not have the ability to perform an engineering design review; so it falls off their radar. But Rice must also recognize that they are torn, in that they also want to create exciting jumps that mimic the big-air events of the pro riders and lead them to take greater risks. If this first statement were really true, namely that guest safety is at the TOP of their priorities, then they would at least give the USTPC a hearing - where's the harm? But instead, people like Rice who are blessed with certainty if not facts impugn their motives and turn a blind eye to the potential benefits of taking a more quantitative approach to jump design.
And then Rice goes on to say: "The turtleback jump design proposed by plaintiff's experts may reduce EFH, but does not guarantee safety. If a jumper lands on their head and/or neck instead of their feet, the turtleback jump is no "safer" than any other jump design.

" Again, Rice uses the fallacious (but no doubt effective) rhetorical device of associating a "plaintiff's expert" characterization with Hubbard's constant EFH surface. One has nothing to do with the other. It is a fact that the USTPC accepts and states clearly in our educational literature that NO jump can be called "safe" and the USTPC has never and will never "guarantee" that a jump will ever be safe. If you leave the ground, you can be hurt. PERIOD. However, the current NSAA position - as stated in their Freestyle Terrain Notebook - is that, due to all the variables involved, safety is entirely the rider's responsibility. I believe this is part of their legal strategy to limit liability exposure. However, as recognized by Rice's earlier comment that patron safety is a top priority for TP builders, the NSAA statement does not ring true. Resorts know that safety is a partnership - the jumper must follow the Smart Style concepts (look before you leap - land on you feet!) and the TP designer must create a jump that doesn't exacerbate rider errors with large negative outcomes from minor mistakes (ever landed just short on a 60' tabletop?), nor cause an involuntary inversion (the number one cause of the big lawsuits), nor have a badly mismatched approach versus landing length, and so on. USTPC criteria with a rigorous monitoring and maintenance program will enable resorts to become good safety partners and reduce their liability risk in the bargain.
USTPC is a new organization (founded this January) and it may fade away from neglect and/or abuse. We know that for USTPC to have any future, the resorts will have to accept their own side of the safety partnership. Their lawyers may tell them that this may open them up to lawsuits - as knowledge implies responsibility - but I believe they know that it is still the right thing to do, and if adopted will lead to fewer injuries, less severe injuries when they do occur, and in the end actually fewer, smaller, and more defensible lawsuits. The lawyers function is to tell management what the risks are; it is up to management to make the decision with the risks fully understood. Sadly, today, too many decisions are left to the lawyers.
Rice ends by repeating his libel: "founding members make part of their living in court may not have the best interests of the industry at heart ." This angers me the most for it is FALSE, a pathetic lie intended to impugn nefarious get-rich-through-litigation motives to this new organization whose true motives are purer than he realizes or cares to learn about. In short, Rice did not do his homework, did not talk to anyone associated with the organization, literally does not know what he is talking about with regard to USTPC, and should be ashamed to have his name associated with this libelous outrage.
I look forward to Rice's apology.

Dear I Heart Park,

I am stoked you are using physics in your parks and honestly hope that every designer out there follows suit. You are obviously in the upper echelon of park designers and resorts should flock to you. I am serious. No sarcasm or cynicism. If every resort had a guy like you at the helm of their park, there would be no use for us and we could get back to running hell (ok... little sarcasm there). There are a lot of resorts that do not have guys as capable as you running the parks, and for them, we are here to help get them to your level. You have made it clear that there is a place for physics in parks, and on that, we totally agre

Dear "I Heart Park",

I am stoked you are using physics in your parks and honestly hope that every designer out there follows suit. You are obviously in the upper echelon of park designers and resorts should flock to you. I am serious. No sarcasm or cynicism. If every resort had a guy like you at the helm of their park, there would be no use for us and we could get back to running hell (ok... little sarcasm there). There are a lot of resorts that do not have guys as capable as you running the parks, and for them, we are here to help get them to your level. You have made it clear that there is a place for physics in parks, and on that, we totally agree.


First of all, I would like to say to John Rice and the other people who have posted here, that I am so flattered at your attention to this matter! I think it is great that you care about who we are and what we are doing enough to get an article in SAM about it....we love it! However, on another note, the thing that I don't like is the LIES that you have told in your letter about USTPC and it's founding members. You have also said some great things that I completely agree with. Here is my decent to your letter:
1)First of all NO FOUNDERS or BOARD MEMBERS are expert witnesses in ANY COURT CASES..kinda our whole thing about being LITIGATION NEUTRAL. Just because one of our founders stands next to someone who is an expert witness doesn't make him one too...if that was the case you and I were standing next to each other at the NSAA tradeshow...does that make you a USTPC founder, ugh I think not. So I would respectfully request that when you do talk about our founders or board of members that you do so with truthful statements. You are entitled to your opinions but not slander of anyone or libel of an organization. Secondly our work and other researchers work have all been used in court cases, so what? I guess that means that it is credible research and useful, useful in a court of law and in design of terrain parks? Well I guess you would have to look into what our criteria are to exactly understand all of this. You say that based on Jim's presentation at the ASTM meeting you wonder what our true intentions are? Read the mission statement on our website pretty clear i think. Non profits make money, its just that they put it back into the organization to support and further their mission.

2) My name is Heather LaHart and I am co-founder of USTPC. I work at 2 different resorts as a ski instructor. I have also worked at other resorts as a freestyle coach. I have worked with terrain park managers and designers before and completely understand and am experienced with the design, maintenance, and operations of a freestyle park. I have been involved with building world cup moguls and aerials courses; I built jumps even before parks were allowed at resorts; and I have riden park and jumped for over 20 years. No I don't drive a snow cat every day and I don't manage a terrain park, but that's not my exact expertise...other co-founders have that specific skill set and have riden along and worked with other respected park designers and managers in the industry. You say in your headline...who is qualified to certify terrain parks? well I can tell you who can't? well first of all terrain park designers' can't, kind of a conflict of interest, hence the third party thing and being litigation neutral. Oh yeah, guess that rules out terrain park managers too. See that's what is so great about USTPC is that we don't have a conflict of interest. Do we want the opinions of terrain park managers, designers, moms, kids, riders, risk managers, lawyers, researchers? OF COURSE!!! That's why it is an open forum! I know you say that other organizations have contributed, yes they have, we credit them and cite them in our criteria, but some organizations are not interested in providing an open forum for EVERYONE to discuss things, so that is why USTPC started to provide a stage for EVERYTHING to be put out there!

3)You say that it is UNKNOWN what science we use. I think that you need to read our website a little closer, because if you become a member (which is only $25) you can see a whole BUNCH of information including our criteria. Or, you can order a Smart Parks Educational Seminar and get a Smart Parks Educational Booklet that EXPLAINS everything! Yes, that's right there is a publication out there that puts everything down on paper and lets EVERYONE see it! Love that Open litigation neutral atmosphere awesome to not discriminate against anyone! You should take a look at the criteria and then say something again. I just think that you should be knowledgable about something before you hate on it. Did you ever think that maybe those so called "general accepted industry practices" that everyone is just supposed to know (they're not written down or published anywhere are they?) are possibly very similar to the criteria that were developed by the USTPC? guess you won't know unless you look into it.

For your information, I think you need to read the research of Dr. McNeil's better because his paper indicates that his model includes all the variables you speak of. Guess what, each one of those variables has a minimum and maximum. This is the million dollar question now, if you can model something including all the variables and they have minimum and maximums....is it bounded or undbounded? This should be a question on are you smarter than a fifth grader??? ANyone, anyone.....well if you answered BOUNDED you are correct Johnny, you are smarter than a fifth grader. Yep it's bounded, but just because we can model it DOESN't MEAN that we can guarantee that a jump can be safe. You cannot take the risk out of risky sport, but what you can do is do your BEST to mitigate risk. There are a lot of people who do a great job at doing that, and yes of course we know that resorts care about their patrons....they have an invested interest...they need them to keep coming back! The USTPC is not saying that resorts are doing a bad job, or that they don't try to mitigate risk, all USTPC is doing is saying cleariy that hey here's the industry "best practices".

4)NO USTPC FOUNDERS OR BOARD MEMBERS HAVE EVER BEEN EXPERT WITNESSES! I had to write this in bold because for some reason people believe this to be true. If this is true, please tell me what court cases and who they are because there must be a mystery person on our board that i don't know about. USTPC in no way thinks that Terrain parks use litigation as a shield or that they don't use some sort of practice of how to deisign or build jumps. What USTPC has done which no one else BUT United States Ski & Snowboard Assocation, is put down a clear set of industry best practices. Yes Burton and NSAA have done their part with education, awarenss, signage, etc. Cutters Camp, NSAA, and PSIA have their own publications and workshops (guess what not everyone can attend all those), but NO ONE ELSE has put down and come out to say HEY here are the industry best practices, clear, concise and upfront. You can 100% say that EVERYONE in the INDUSTRY is doing 100% of their BEST to do THE BEST they can to mitigate risk in TERRAIN PARKS as much as possible? Are your staff trained in accident procedures? Do you have log books for all your jumps? Do you have electronic communication on hill in case of an accident? Does your staff know how to properly document an accident? Do you provide extensive training to your terrain park rangers? Do you have design measurements on your jumps? Do you model them? Do you have a roping plan and flow plan for your terrain park? If you said yes to all those questions, well then you're on your way to being Smart Park Certified! YOU and all the rest of the population on this blog should really look into the criteria that Smart Parks offers before you go talking about something that you technically don't know anything about. Go look at our facebook page and see what is said...interesting stuff, great life advice actually. Before you go ahead and talk about something and ADVISE people to beware of something, you probably should be knowledgable about it first. I know that anything that I put out to publish I make sure i know what I am talking about and its factual...if I didn't and I did spread lies and talk about something I am misinformed on, well then it would only make me look misinformed, uneducated, ignorant, discqualified, and foremost just unprofessional. I'm not saying that's you, but if I did that that's how I would think people would view me. I know that you are respected in your industry and people do appreciate your opinion and expertise so it is only in your best intereste to continued to be viewed that way, so continuing to spread lies and be misinformed about what an organization is offering will only further reflect on you. Thanks everyone for all the love (good or bad, I think its great that we are all talking about this!)

nice attitude bud

I use physics in a manner that's appropriate given all of the many variables that are out of your control. Using only the factors that are constant and can never change regardless of rider skill, weight, pop, weather, wind, snow condition is prudent. Design it in a vacuum because in that environment can you truly distill a jump down to its bare essentials and weed out user, wind and snow factors. Knowing that a given takeoff angle matches a given landing angle for a given jump profile combined with the associated minimum required velocity at the point of takeoff to reach the landing as well as the maximum velocity at point of take off to reach the mid point of the landing seems to work great for me. I'll let the fact that I've never had a catastrophic overshoot by not a single park user in 12yrs stand for itself. If you want to waste time with coefficients be my guest....what time of day to you want to measure them, what temp, what water content, what sun exposure, is there particulates in the snow???...did the user wax his board? Was the user wearing tight jeans or baggy pants...where is your wind tunnel to test rider air resistance...did a gust of wind hit the rider while on the tranny. Try and collect that data after the fact and have it stand up in court! It's ludicrous to try engineer a jump and its placement relative to other features based on such specific variables when the conditions and properties of snow change daily if not hourly and minute to minute in some locations! The instant the conditions change your coefficient based formula now becomes worthless.


What friction coefficient of snow do you generally use to make sure your landing area is long enough to support the run-in length? Thought so.
We are not talking basic physics, we are talking about the ones that will hold up in a court of law when a plantiff attorney is putting the screws to you or the resort. We don't expect you to have that knowledge. TP designers have enough on their plates already. That's how we can help.

you under estimate us

I for one have been using physics as ONE of the tools in my park building tool box for over 12yrs. I know there are others out there using it as well.

To all...

We understand that this is a different way of looking at parks. We also understand that the TP crews out there are some tough sons of bitches (that's a compliment) and they are not afraid to fight for what they have worked for so long. We do not want to undermine anyone or hurt this industry in any way. Let me simply state what our intentions are, and you tell me if there is a need for us in the industry. We saw what happened with the Salvini case in 2008 and we have seen the other cases filed recently. The evil plantiff's attorney have set the precedent in a court of law that the jump was designed/constructed so negligently, that the resort was actually responsible for the injuries. We are trying to bring engineering and art together to work best for all. Terrain Park designers love to say that its a melding of art and science. Where exactly is your science? Why doesn't the USTPC have more terrain park designers on their board?? Because thats not what we do. We are not TP designers.... you guys are... and you're friggin good at it. We aren't in any position to tell you how to design or construct. We don't want to pretend it's what we do. We know exactly what we do, and frankly, there is nobody else out there doing it. We can run your jump profile through our physics models and let you know if your fall heigh equivlancies are way too high for a beginner park. We can make sure your lip shape won't exacerbate an unwanted inversion. We can look at your dedicated start point versus your lip location versus your table length versus your landing length, plug in the fastest and slowest friction coefficients, max and min. "pop effect" to be sure that you are not setting yourself up for the potential of some piece of crap attorney to drag you through court and say you should have known better. We can assess the lineup of jumps and let you know how many human reaction times are needed between jump A and B to give the rider the needed time to bail on B. We think this is important stuff, that takes a bit more effort, but might just save some lives. How are you doing this now?? Is the lack of this type of engineering putting you at risk of liability? If so, we can help you out. Nothing more, nothing less. Instead of hating on the fact that we don't build parks, I could hate on the fact that you don't have an engineering degree, but you are constructing jumps that 10 year old kids are flying off of. But instead, we are offering to help assess the performance of your features to be sure your park is well within the inherent risks of the sport. How exactly are we the anti-christ?


Wow, never thought I would see the words PHD, Certify, Non Profit, Smart, Board of Directors, United States, Council, Best practices. Donate, Special Interest Group, Member, Standards, Litigation Neutral, all on one web site for helping terrain parks. A court order can change the last word really fast. It seems they left out the words Experienced, History, Our Builders, Proof. And selling the USTPC's service as either join us or parks will be gone forever is pretty lame.


The assertion that skiing and riding at a high level somehow makes this group capable of certifying our park is comical. It is telling that no one is the group is an established park builder. The work that this industry has put forth to make terrain parks safer has been tremendous, and i don't recall any of these folks being involved. I am certain that work will continue, and am confident that the USTPC will NOT be involved. It is pretty easy to see through this group's true intentions.

Is there a problem with parks now?

I've been around parks for a long time. I don't know all the details but here's my input.

"If it aint broke, dont fix it." comes to mind first off.
In the past recent years I have never seen such amazing parks big and small. There is thought, dedication, consistency and attention to detail in all areas of parks across the country. Really amazing what park people are doing today from 93.
A warning to the USTPC. Park people are strong. They are used to getting the short end of the stick. Since 93 +/- they have had to scrape, claw and fight to get parks accepted and any kind of respect. Most of them are pretty tough SOB.s that are used to a fighting for what they believe in. Coming into this the way you have might not be the best method in that respect.

If my shoe salesman told me I will need a new hip in 10 years I dont know that I would listen to him. I know my foot is indirectly connected to my hip, but right now my hip feels just fine. Speaking of hips, I love hitting hip features and would hate to loose them because of the ASTM or the USTPC.


This is a necessary call to action. This group of "board members" is simply trying to sabotage the industry into bending to its' will for financial gain and power. I find it odd that that they advertise that they simply desire to "support" the industry while fundamentally undermining our ability to offer freestyle terrian going forward. Our industry has worked tirelessly to provide a safe avenue for customers to enjoy terrain parks from their inception. Our industry saw record visits last season and a major component of that is the evolution of freestyle terrain. Frankly, we are not interested in what your selling ustpc. I am not sure if you are just completely unaware of the damage you will inflict or you just don't care, but please find another industry to wreak havoc on with your bright new regulatory ideas. We have come too far and worked too hard to have some arrogant group wonder on the scene and begin telling us how to build terrain that we pioneered.


Let me start by saying you offer nothing new to the mix and only work to slander the hard work of the people (who through experience have become experts) that have been behind the growth and protection of terrain parks for resorts and guests. ustpc you are not listening… what you're doing will not help the industry rather you unwittingly work to increase the expense of running a terrain park therefor threatening the future existence of terrain parks. How awesome will you feel when kids can't ride terrain parks of any size or design at their local mom and pop once you have accomplished your totally righteous goal. Hopefully along the way you will make some good money and be able to tell the story of how you saved lives… Maybe we should start an initiative that will enable everyone to live in a virtual world where nobody ever gets hurt or has to take responsibility for their actions. Seriously if you want to be a part of the solution then do it right and get involved with the organizations that support our industry and get a friggin job where you could actually learn something about the industry and do some good internally. Don't sit in your think tank and come up with great ideas and try to force the industry to abide through a sexy story that says you have the answers to problems that will exist whether you certify a jump or not, until you actually have the experience to know how to implement these practices. You clearly don't understand that your efforts will hurt the industry you aim to support. That, by definition, is ignorance and every resort should fear you for that reason. Good luck with your efforts but I will have nothing to do with this idiocracy. Frankly your learning curve is dangerous and steep and I hope that no resort partners with you to enable you to experiment with your theory's. One day you may be testing one of your "superior designed" features and someone will make a bad choice move wrong and fall on their head at anypoint along your turtle back design. They might be injured and have a life altering experience or even die. Then you and your experts can get on the witness stand and tell that person and their family that you thought you had it all figured out. We work hard to protect our guests because we care about them and never want to see any of them hurt, we love our sport at least as much as you and we know what we're doing. Do you?

full disclosure- Adrian Wisniewski

To Adrian Wisniewski...

You throw a lot of facts out there about your principles but no names or resorts.

If you have any chance to be taken seriously then who are these people with industry experience and from what resorts did they get this experience?


Great article John, I think the entire industry has to be weary of this organization.

This is good stuff

Glad to see people care! It seems like the real issue at debate is the fact that none on the panel have sufficient experience in the field. We, just as any professionals with decades of experience, don't appreciate folks coming in and threatening our livelyhood. And to say that we have been ignoring good jump building practices is insulting, Adrian. This is reason one why you are being blasted so eagerly. We have all left blood, sweat, and tears out on the hill with nothing but our guests in mind.
What are the resort terrain parks has said board member been involved with building? What does an engineer from the School of Mines have to do with snow sports? Do you think professional athletes are good judges for how to construct features for a typical ski resort demographic? Not in my experience. These are questions we have, but I don't believe many want to join your organization to have questions answered, because they know you will publish their names as "supporters." I am certainly not willing to have that label.