Park Report for Northstar 11/19/2011

This past Saturday I got a chance to make it out to Northstar and check out their new park set-up. Northstar did a great job with the snow that they had to work with and put up tons of features. The set-up was decent but some of the features were a little too small for my liking.

The park is on pinball which normally has medium to advanced features but currently has a variety of beginner to medium features. The first feature of the park is a 3 foot flat box followed by a  2 foot triple barrel flat rail. Following this comes a pretty fun small rainbow box into an extra wide 8-10 foot down box. That concludes the top rail section which then flows into a small 5 foot step-down table.

The middle section of the park starts with a smooth down box that is about 8-10 feet long. Next, there is a 10 foot up box followed by a square 7 foot down rail. The subsequent feature is my favorite in the park, an up-down box. I like this one the most because it is the longest feature so you actually have some time to do some tricks on it. After this, there is a 2 foot round flat bar that I had more fun tapping then actually trying to slide. Finally the bottom of the park ends with a 10 foot true table into an 8 foot wide slanted box.

Overall, the park at Northstar is good because it’s long but I wish they would’ve thrown in some bigger features. I understand that they are working with a very limited amount of snow, still I feel that if they took out a couple smaller features then they could’ve used that snow to create less but more quality features. That being said, lets all pray for snow so Northstar can bring back the quality park that we all know and love!



Freestyle Skiing in 2014 Olympics: Good or Bad?

If you haven’t already heard, Skiing slopestyle and halfpipe has been admitted into the 2014 Olympics. This will allow for our sport to be showcased to a broader audience but many fear that it may change our beloved sport for the worse.

For those that are against freestyle skiing joining the Olympics, the main fear is that skiing will become another standardized sport with rules and regulations on who is the best and what is considered proper. Many freestyle skiers joined this sport to escape the conformity of ski racing and moguls in order to do their own thing. Freestyle skiing is all about being creative and using the mountain and terrain park in your own unique way. Now that both slopestyle and halfpipe have been admitted into the Olympics, many fear that these events will be judged by someone who doesn’t really understand the sport and creativity will be destroyed. Furthermore, skiers opposed to the Olympics fear the sport will sell-out and athletes will start to ski solely for the money and the publicity, as opposed to simply the love of being outside and doing something outside the norm. I asked my good friend and fellow skier, Jacob Swartz, what he felt about this issue and he was against skiing being in the Olympics as well. He said, ” My main worry is that skiing is going to become another commercialized sport. Skiing has always been sort of underground and that is part of the appeal to it.” Clearly there are some skiers worried about the negative impact that the Olympics will have on freestyle skiing but what about the positive side of things?

Advocates for freestyle skiing joining the Olympics feel that this will do great things for our sport. First of all, it will allow freestyle skiing to be showcased to a broader audience. This added exposure could help create new opportunities for our sport such as greater income and rewards for athletes, more competitions, and other possibilities like new off-slope training facilities. Another good thing that the Olympics will do for freestyle skiing is increase the international participant base. Due to the fact that the Olympics is an international event, the addition of freestyle skiing will create more interest world-wide in our sport. This is a good thing because the bigger playing field will create increased competition which will hopefully result in greater progression of the sport.

Overall, with skiing halfpipe and slopestyle scheduled to be in the 2014 Olympics, the sport is sure to increase in popularity. I just hope that people don’t forget where our sport came from and what the essence of skiing is all about.

How do you feel about skiing halfpipe and slopestyle being admitted into the 2014 Olympics?

New Change in the Set-up at Boreal

Today I got a chance to ski for a few hours at Boreal in the morning before my heal piece broke. Even with the little snow that Boreal is working with, they were able to change the park set-up. I have to give credit to Boreal for really working hard this pre-season at keeping their park set-up fresh and maintained well before any of the other mountains in Tahoe have even opened. It is crucial that resorts keep changing their parks so that their customers don’t get bored with the old set-up and Boreal is doing a great job at this.

The set-up  has changed on the upper-section of the park only. They got rid of the wrecking ball on the skiers right and moved the lift tower tube up in it’s place. The lift tower tube is set-up really nicely now because it is out of the snow and has a good lip on. After this feature, you have the option of hitting the small down flat circle rail or a flat down box. Next they moved the 25 foot round down rail up and placed it is a flat rail. I like this rail as a flat, but if you clean the whole rail it is really easy to clear the landing which can be painful on the knees. The bottom section still remains the same with the option of a 10 foot jump, which they have improved, or my favorite feature, the round down flat down rail. After this, there is a slanted-box wall ride and the half dome with a flat top for taps and bonks.

On the skiers left hand, the park begins with the same option of an up box or a square down rail. After this they added a new tire tap followed by a really unique set-up of the dog house with a pole jam option. I like the way that they have the dog-house set-up now because there are so many different ways that you can approach it allowing you to get creative. Following this feature, there is a metal corrugated quarter-pipe spine that flows into a feature that I cannot put into words. After this, you can either gain speed for the jump or head right towards the down-flat-down rail.

Also in addition to the new set-up, Boreal has added in a beginner park. Therefore, if you are just learning how to ride park then Boreal has something that you can have fun on as well. Overall, I am glad to see Boreal is really working hard this year at creating the best park possible with the little amount of snow they are working with. Lucky for us, snow is in the forecast for the weekend so keep your fingers crossed and pray to the snow gods!

Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the new set-up!

Urban Skiing: Is it a crime?

First of all, let me start by introducing the concept of urban skiing for those that have never heard of such a thing before. Urban skiing is when skiers take their skis off the mountain or resort in order to test their skills on rails, ledges, drops, and other unique urban features. One of the greatest parts about urban skiing is hitting features that have never been done before and using your creativity in an urban setting to use a man made feature in a way that it wasn’t intended for. Urban is usually more risky than skiing at a resort because of the extreme terrain such as concrete stairs and pavement as opposed to normal snow landings that can be found at resorts. As a result, urban gives skiers a chance to really test their ability in an environment that they are not normally used to.

(Me hitting an urban rail)

Now that you have a general idea of what urban skiing is, this brings me to my question of should this be illegal? Skiers have been given tickets and been kicked out of urban areas because of liability factors and accusations of vandalism. Urban skiing is seen as a reckless and juvenile act, but in reality what are they really hurting? The most damage that has probably ever done by a skier trying to hit a urban rail is to themselves. I know this brings up the issue of liability but I feel that this is something that is a problem with our court system. If someone gets hurt on your property and they were doing it without your consent, then I do not feel that you should be held liable. It is like the case of the robber that broke into a house and got cut by a knife during entry then ended up suing and won. Clearly, there is something flawed with this justice. Furthermore, I feel that the skiing community understands this risk is inherent with the sport and would not attempt to file a lawsuit. I realize that trust in the skiing communities ethics is not enough to justify urban skiing when a property owner could be facing a liability, but I do not feel that urban skiing should be considered a crime.

Skiers attempting to hit urban features are simply trying to get outside and have a good time. I feel that it is better that they are out in the city trying to ski as opposed to some other type of real crime like doing drugs or actual vandalism such as graffiti. Some urban skiers such as myself, even do others a good service by shoveling off public stairs and walk-ways. Therefore, I feel that people need to change their outlook of urban skiing and stop viewing it as a crime. If a property owner has a problem with someone hitting their rails, then they can simply ask that skier to leave instead of calling the cops. After all, their are a lot worse things that kids could be doing than skiing in a unique environment.

How do you guys feel about urban skiing? Please feel free to share your comments about this issue.

Top 3 Terrain Parks In North Lake Tahoe

#1 Northstar At Tahoe: One of the best parts about Northstar’s terrain park is the fact that it is so long. You can hit rails, jumps, taps, wall-rides, hips, quarter pipes, and the half-pipe all in one smooth run. The park crew at Northstar does an excellent job at keeping the set-up fresh so that the park never gets old. They are always changing things and adding new unique features that are different from any other mountain. Northstar also offers a wide variety of difficulty in their features from the Burton Progression Park for beginners just learning to jib, to the DC straits where experts can test their skills on perfectly sculpted jumps and well-maintained rails. As a result, Northstar is truly a terrain park enthusiasts dream come true. 

#2 Alpine Meadows: My favorite part about Alpine Meadows is definitely their jumps. The current terrain park manager really knows what he is doing when it comes to building perfectly manicured jumps. In my eyes, these are the best jumps in Tahoe because they have smooth take-offs and massive landings that you can take as big or as small as you please. The jibs at alpine are fun but don’t have as much variety as Northstar and are not changed as much either. The downside to Alpine is that they moved the terrain park away from the Kangaroo chair to a less optimal location and they don’t have a half-pipe. However, I still feel that Alpine has the second best park in  North Lake Tahoe simply because their jumps are hard to beat. 

#3 Boreal: Boreal is a smaller mountain but always has a really fun terrain park. There are multiple parks all over the mountain that feature a wide variety of jibs and a good range of jump sizes. One of the best parts about Boreal is their half-pipe. This pipe is my favorite in Tahoe, and even though I’m not a huge half-pipe skier, I still love dropping into Boreal’s because it’s so smooth. Boreal does a great job at opening up before any of the other resorts in Tahoe and always has a really fun pre-season set-up. Another thing that you may want to try at Boreal is their air-bag. This new features allows skiers and riders to try their new tricks safely before taking them to the snow. Although Boreal’s park runs are a little shorter so you don’t get as much variety as other resorts, they still have many good things to offer.

Current Conditions at Boreal

Today I got a chance to head up to Boreal early in the morning and I couldn’t have asked for a better day! The sun was shining without a cloud in the sky and to my surprise, they opened up the accelerator express quad chair. It’s nice having the accelerator open because you get to make some longer runs and it also helps spread out the people in the lift lines. It was great to get some speed going again and really put the new edges to the test.

Currently, Boreal has a wide variety of terrain features set up in the South 40 park. On the skiers right side, the line begins with a flat box. Following this is a rainbow box into a up-flat-down box. Next is a flat-down box into a really smooth down-flat-down round rail (my personal favorite). (This photo was taken from Boreal’s website – I am not taking credit for it) At the bottom of the South 40 park there is a semi-circle with a flat top that you can tap or jib.

The middle of the South 40 park starts with a round wrecking ball tap into a dog house spine. These two unique features are a lot of fun and keep the park interesting. Following these, is a 20 foot lift tower tube that is pretty much in the snow. Next comes a down rail with a short flat followed by a really smooth 25 foot down circle rail. This line then flows into the down-flat-down round rail that I was talking about earlier.

Finally, on the skiers left side, the top of the park starts with the option of a square down rail or an up box. After this comes a wall ride which flows into the down-flat rail. From this point you have a choice to go right into the 25 foot down circle rail or go left into a ten foot jump. At the bottom, on the skiers left, their is a banked wall ride.

In my eyes this is one of the best preseason set-ups Boreal has had in years. The new circle rails are really smooth and tons of fun. It was hard to leave today and I already can’t wait to get back up there tomorrow morning. If you have any questions about the set-up please feel free to share them in the comments section!

Hopefully I’ll see some of you out there tomorrow!


Nimbus Independent – En Route Cascadia Review

I just got done watching Nimbus Independent’s latest webisode, En Route Cascadia, and as expected,  I thoroughly enjoyed it. This webisode featured skiing by Andy Mahre, Bryce Phillips, and Eric Pollard at Crystal Mountain, Alpental, Stevens Pass, and White Pass all located in Washington. Although I have never had the opportunity to ski in Washington, this edit really makes me want to plan a trip that way in the near future.  En Route Cascadia had a relaxed vibe and did a good job capturing how fun skiing in deep powder really is. Rather than portraying skiing as scary, intense, and epic, Nimbus Independent does a great job at really capturing the essence of skiing, which is just being outside and having a great time with your friends.

Unfortunately, Pep Fujas and Chris Benchetler were absent from this edit but the rest of the crew still got some great shots. Pollard, Phillips, and Mahre all make skiing look effortless as they ski some great lines and send some decent sized cliffs. It looks like they picked a great time to head to Washington since there was tons of snow and great weather.

After watching this, I have gotten even more eager for more snow to come and hit Lake Tahoe so I that I can bust out my Hellbents and enjoy some powder skiing for myself. Last season I was skiing waist deep pow on Thanksgiving and I’m hoping that this year is no different. In the mean time while we wait for the snow to fall, check out this edit and get stoked because winter is just around the corner!