When it comes to a sideways stance, you can bet a large number of your snowboarders are also skateboarders. So, how do you appeal to this crowd during non-winter months and get them to come back up to your hill, even though skateboarding doesn’t need gravity? Last summer, the Ted Friedman Skate Park was started with a skatebowl at Friedman Fields in Winhall, Vt. While not at a ski area, this park can give us a glimpse into what it would take to reach out to our sideways customers. We asked David Van Houten from Straight Line Rails, who was involved in the construction, about the pricing, materials and pros and cons.
SAM: Would something like this be a good idea for a ski resort in the off season?
DVH: Well, this bowl may not be the best design as it is more challenging for the advancing skater. But with the same amount of material and a little more space, you could design and build something suited to a larger span of ability. I would think that a good-sized modular street course would work just as well and you could change those up year to year, adding features to basically an empty parking lot for the same cost as a ‘crete bowl. No doubt that the in-ground ‘crete bowl is super cool and would be something to brag about, but the jury is out on practicality.
SAM: What are the costs of such a project?
DVH: This skatebowl was put together from funds raised through the town. Initially, there was $25,000 collected before I did the steel work. As it stands now, fencing still needs to be installed and the landscaping finished. All said and done, I would say around $35,000 to $40,000. The largest expense would be the guys who did the concrete work as this is a very specialized (skater) skill much like snow park builders, not a task to take on in-house for any resort. Being a town operation, much of the cost plus staff was volunteer, discounted or donated. Also, there is no charge to use the bowl—at your own risk—and it is not monitored or staffed.
SAM: What was the hardest part about constructing this bowl?
DVH: The bending work we did was very challenging. To get the corkscrew bends we needed for the clamshell extension, I would imagine a steel shop would either turn you away or nail you hard on cost. I designed and built the bending machine that made these long bends and we used no heat or relief cuts to blend the transitions from the bowl corners to the extension. The bending work took about 20 man-hours to complete and another 12 hours to mock up the coping to get the form and shape braced and ready for the shaping of the rebar in the transitions to create the form of the walls and flat bottom.
SAM: What areas would benefit the most from such a park and is there a profit to be made?
DVH: I would guess that if there is a profit to be made, it would be a small one. I could see this kind of thing working well at resorts near metro areas or larger destination style resorts.