November 2020

Terrain Park Contest: A Look Back

Terrain park luminaries weigh in on contest entries from the past five years.

Written by The Editors | 0 comment

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The year 2020 has upended everything, so we took the opportunity to reformat the Terrain Park Contest this year. We figured if there was ever a time to look back at good things from the past, it was now. To help with this look back, we asked a handful of terrain park luminaries to pore over the past five years of contest entries, choose a few events and features that stood out to them for any reason, and write about why.

What we received is a collection of feedback that offers a glimpse into the minds of park-building OGs and one all-world snowboard pro. From the technical to the inspirational, these guys came through with a variety of insights that we hope park builders everywhere appreciate.

While the rest of the crew wrote about their chosen features and events in separate entries, longtime park builder and Cutter’s Camp instructor Elia Hamilton went a different route, but we found no reason to change it. So, that’s where we’ll begin.

“Thumbing back through the last five years of submissions, it is amazing to witness the rapid progression in feature creativity and quality. One can really see the difference in finish work and rideability of the shapes, and pick out the influencing features that truly changed the game. It is so difficult to pick just a handful, so I decided to group what I consider to be a few of the more inspirational builders out there if they submitted more than one over the years.

“Starting on the events side—the resorts that partnered with Snowboy Productions to create events like Holy Bowl-Eh? at Sunshine Village, Holy Bowly Down Under at Thredbo, and Ash & Steel at Carinthia, really demonstrated the vision of how an event can be different and crazy fun. These courses have inspired countless park builds around the world—a revolution in park design and flow, really.

“Another creative way to look at events has been to attract folks who are not pipe jocks and big-air flippers. My personal favorite is Torah Bright’s Mini Shred at Thredbo, because, Torah Bright. She is a perfect ambassador for keeping fun in the sport with her infectious enthusiasm for snowboarding. Plus, it’s amazing to have people like her paying attention to the youth.

“Also in this category are “Beyond the Boundaries” at Mountain Creek and “Girls Rock the Park” at Sundown—or any event that sheds the male-dominated influence on the sport to rethink what women are looking for. We have a long way to go, but the road is getting paved by these pioneers.

“Singular features or whole parks—hard to choose only a handful. There were some real standouts on the snow sculpting side. Whistler’s “To Infinity and Beyond” or “Heaven’s Sake” along with “Baker’s Dozen” at Grouse and the Volcom Stone at Falls Creek were masterpieces of snow sculpting. They also look super fun.

“I also loved “The Whole Park” at Chestnut in Illinois, especially because seeing that kind of work accomplished at a small resort just makes me so happy—like we really are getting it as an industry.

“On the rail side, anything built by my boys Rory Bruder or Rob Black, formerly at Carinthia, have inspired me and many others to think about new ways for people to ride hardware. The Spring Rail, Hanger Rail, Carrie Underwood, Black Mamba—I mean, ridiculous and fun. Add to that the Bonfire Axe from Big Boulder, and the rail scene looks like something I never could have imagined 20 years ago.

“Keep up the good work everybody. You are amazing.” — Elia Hamilton

FEATURES

Bomb Drop (2019)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H.

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This feature is an impressive delivery of the “Bomb Drop” concept typically seen in video parts filmed in urban environments. Loon’s version includes a jump after the drop and the entire concept is executed in a well-managed forum. These types of features necessitate a gathering, and also drive the terrain park community to connect and inspire together. — Micheal Schipani

I chose this one for the nerve it took to try—not only for the riders, but especially for the designers and builders. When you get to contest day and things actually work the way the team had planned, the relief is yuuuge and the stress starts to subside. Trying things like this—that are so unique and at the same time require very precise builds—is courageous and helps inspire the entire industry segment to step up its creative game. — Ken Gaitor

Clean, great use of space, and brings back the skate influence that I had as a kid. I like how the drop-in has become part of the fun for this feature instead of a traditional slope for the run in. — Kevin Laverty

This feature resonates most with me, as I compare it to riding a lot of backcountry features. Oftentimes in the backcountry, you have limited space to set up for your jump and it rarely works out to where it’s a smooth and easy in-run. The Bomb Drop feature was just that. The difficulty for riders dropping directly into their set-up turn for their jump trick was obvious in some of the bails that happened. Much like in backcountry film shoots, though, when the rider synced all the variables of the feature together, it seemed effortless and fun. — Pat Moore

Set in Stone (2018)
Falls Creek, Australia

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I was at this film shoot for Volcom at Falls Creek, and I thought this feature was beautifully made. We had a cast of many different styles of riders at this shoot and the feature worked for each one of them in unique ways. Scott Blum did handplants on every corner, Mike Rave slid lip-tricks from one section to another, Marcus Kleveland buttered on and off the top, and Torgeir Bergrem jumped over the entire thing. The creative aspects of the build sparked creative styles of riding, which made it one of my favorites. — Pat Moore

Big, bold, and visually stunning with the option to be ridden in so many ways. Transforming a 2D spec to a 3D snow feature is a skill that I have always admired. The time, patience, and precise control needed are next level and deserve recognition. The idea that an Icon of the snowsports industry could be reimagined into such a versatile feature is uplifting and shows true art in craft. — Ken Gaitor

I really dig this feature. It stood out to me not because it’s the biggest, most unique, or even the most difficult to build. More so that I love it when things look clean and precise…what we call “photo ready” here at Loon. Most features are ride-able, but as someone who has handled a rake or shovel a million times and probably moved a mountain of snow by now, I truly appreciate seeing attention to detail and geometry out there. It takes a lot of time and no shortcuts. That dedication is awesome. — Jay Scambio

The Baker’s Dozen (2017)
Grouse Mountain, BC

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The Baker’s Dozen at Grouse Mountain exemplified the artistic execution of terrain park construction and high-end video production. The features delivered were unprecedented in size and creativity, the chiselmanship* was flawless, and the athletes made the supporting video inspirational. This was a large-scale production that drove innovative park design and high-end riding to a superlative level. *Chiselmanship: coined by Jeremy Jones, 2006. — Michael Schipani

I love the options, location/views, and use of space here. The lines and tricks seem endless for this feature/zone. I really like the attention to details by the crew with this feature. — Kevin Laverty

To Infinity and Beyond (2015)
Whistler, BC

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Extra large! Keeping the stoke alive in a very big way is still important in the age of family parks. We have all learned the crucial nature of building features that a wide range of skill levels can use and enjoy. There will always be a place for the piece to aspire to, the feature that showcases the highest levels of skill and courage and the riders that make it shine. These are the concepts that spark a fire in the young and bring the ceiling crashing down, allowing riders to dream bigger than they could have before. To add to all that, this feature is not just pretty…it’s smokin’ f*ckin’ hot! — Ken Gaitor

This feature looks massive, intimidating, and really fun. I love the idea of connecting two different styles of jumps into one with the feeling of riding on an elevated bridge in between. The Whistler crew obviously went above and beyond with this for the film shoot, but if a scaled-down variation of this lived in a terrain park in substitute of a double-line of jumps, I believe it would be a rider favorite. — Pat Moore

Main Line Jumps (2019)
The Rock Snowpark, Wis.

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One of the things I’ve noticed over the years of watching snowboarding is the exceptional talent that comes from the most unlikely of places. Although we associate great terrain and abilities with big mountains and deep snowpack, many of the top professional snowboarders consistently come from places like Finland, Norway, Calgary, and the Midwest. During the early stages of skill development, you don’t need a lot. What I love about this jump line at The Rock Snowpark is that it lends itself perfectly to the rider progressing through his or her tricks. And with a designated tow-rope, the riders can quickly get back to the jumps without ever having to unstrap (more opportunity to gain board control). — Pat Moore

Mini Bowl (2018)
Sun Valley, Idaho

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Although I’m an advocate for KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), I would argue one of the best uses of space if a resort has the snow and ability is a quality Japanese-inspired transition park. The first time I got to experience a park like this was at the first Howly Bowly and was blown away at the fun we had. The mix of hips, quarter pipes, bowled corners, and jumps creates an endless combination of riding and opens itself to nearly all abilities. — Pat Moore

Buttercup Wall Rides (2019)
Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore.

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Wall rides are one of the most versatile metal features in a park, and for my own riding style is one of my favorite options. With a low barrier of entry, these features are often utilized the most and by a wide array of abilities. This welcoming riding style coupled with the resourcefulness of the Meadows crew combines to a low cost, low impact feature that offers a huge ROI. The old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” hits home for me growing up at the infamous Boneyard park at Waterville, N.H. I really appreciate anytime I see a resort utilize old materials in creative ways. I think it’s in the nature of the resort industry, and in snowboarding, too. — Pat Moore

Scenic Wall Ride (2018)
Diamond Peak, Calif.

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We always talk about location, location, location when building features. Use the terrain to your advantage when building features and don’t force features into a park. But here is a great example of another reason to place features in a certain location. Can’t beat that Lake Tahoe backdrop. — Kevin Laverty

Feel the Push and Pull (2017)
Whistler, BC

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Clean cut, multi-options, and views to go with it. Another sick feature designed and built by the crew at Whistler. Every spring, I look forward to seeing what feature they create for their shoots and athletes. — Kevin Laverty

All Welcome! (2016)
Snowy Range, Wyo.

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I picked this one because features that have animation and tell a story really create a lasting memory for my terrain park experience. — Kevin Laverty

The Thunderdome (2016)
Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore.

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The very best pieces of park hardware offer aesthetic pleasure balanced with visual comfort for the rider. The Thunderdome has both. It instills confidence in many levels of rider by having “soft edges” and “super car” lines, while at the same time showing its beauty and willingness to fit into the outdoor world. Every level of park rider could find a way to interact with this feature, even if it’s just riding by with a head turn and a smile. — Ken Gaitor

Trash Cans, Not Tree Wells (2018)
Boreal, Calif.

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This feature is the perfect example of influencing behavior and cultural shift by virtue of fun. Our park guests are driven by an emotional connection to hitting features, so offering up the trash-can box feature logically and even subliminally encourages guests to throw out their trash while having fun doing so. The title itself and accompanying graphics on the feature point out a responsibility that we all have to protect our mountains. — Michael Schipani

Ice, Ice, Baby (2015)
Stowe Mountain Resort, Vt.

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The ice block, double-barrel rail that was branded by a carving artist at Stowe brought together innovation and simplicity. Almost all core park participants require a double-barrel rail, and this version takes advantage of Vermont’s climate—freezing something simple into a fun and engaging experience during the holiday season. — Michael Schipani

EVENTS

Holy Bowly (2017, 2019)
Sunshine Village, AB; Thredbo, Australia

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This is the event that inspired a movement within terrain parks across the world. A high frequency of diverse snow features bundled into a formidable footprint allows riders endless interpretations of the venue. Camaraderie and an inclusive atmosphere drive the collective creativity that expels from the riders that drop-in and create new lines through the course. — Michael Schipani

If you are a park rider or ever have been, and this does not get your blood flowing—check your pulse. A true case of collaboration showing itself in design. Perhaps the largest accomplishment around this event is the feature maintenance. Congrats to Snowboy Productions on conceptualizing the “riders rake” idea. This event truly could not happen without this leap of faith. The sheer magnitude of the venue and creative scope make this the benchmark against which all new park events should be measured. — Ken Gaitor

I bet this one ranks high and a favorite of most. This skate influenced event changed our landscape and how we are building public terrain parks today. — Kevin Laverty

Methodology (2018)
Loon Mountain, N.H.

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Fantastic event put on by a great guy and N.H. native, Pat Moore. Selfish, I know, because this particular tour stop for Methodology took place at Loon. But as someone who has young snowboarders and pushes to get anyone out snowboarding and enjoying parks anytime, this event is a homerun. I’m sure there are others like it on the list, but Methodology checks all the boxes. It’s super fun no matter what age or ability level, and always supports a great cause! In this case, helping fund our local skate-park efforts. — Jay Scambio

This is a fun for all event in your community. I get stoked seeing the turnout of all the different ages of riders coming together to share in this super fun event that is focused on speed and style. The concept of integrating a banked slalom with a double-sided hip should be something we see in the day-to-day park offerings. This event is full of great vibes and lasting memories with friends. — Kevin Laverty

reVEGETATE (2019)
Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore.

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Wow…what a build. Anyone that has put together a plaza of park hardware knows what it took to put together this beast. The infinite number of line options is super impressive. This type of work takes both careful planning and a willingness to toss a part of those plans when a new idea emerges. Congrats to the team at Meadows for shoveling their asses of and turning out a piece of Franken-art that is really next level. — Ken Gaitor

Torah Bright Mini Shred (2018)
Thredbo, Australia

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As resort operators, it is imperative to find ways to grow and retain skiing and riding participation. The Torah Bright Mini Shred does so in a way that fosters learning and connection in a supportive environment, uniquely hosted by an iconic Olympic athlete. This resort and athlete partnership event also donates the proceeds, making it a winning situation for all involved by growing the terrain park community and presenting to the world its supportive landscape. — Michael Schipani

SKOLF (2017)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H.

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Competitive snowboarding events can be taken very seriously, but this event delivers serious fun and engagement to its competitors. SKOLF exemplifies creativity, presented with an exclusive format that pushes riders to attempt unique tricks and go outside their comfort zone. The features are either something out of the ordinary or the tricks required to win a hole are pushing progression to a new level in this alternate realm of innovative competition. — Michael Schipani

Woodward Peace Park (2019)
Killington, Vt.

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An all-inclusive experience. The fun of non-linear flow, non-traditional features and the concept of opening this up to the public ranks this one high on my list of events. Fun laps with all your friends all day. — Kevin Laverty