loves to jump. Kids, adults -- I've had 60-year olds do six-foot
drops, and they'll do it all day long. It's not a fad.
It's part of a bigger trend that is still growing and evolving,
says Lane McLaughlin, a freeskier and Professional Ski Instructors
of America (PSIA) member.
the point of snow sports has nothing to do with snow; it has everything
to do with air. Part of the overwhelming trend of action sports,
freeskiing and freestyle snowboarding tricks buck convention,
surpass the limits of being gravity-bound and are just plain fun.
gravity, the sensation of being weightless, is like soaring like
a bird, says Butch Peterson, an American
Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) Snowboard team
member and snowboard instructor at Aspen/Snowmass.
How to fly?
Huck, grab, spin, jib.
to the National Ski Areas Association's Kottke end-of-season
report for 2003-04, that's precisely what skiers and rider
are doing. The study surveyed resorts nationwide and discovered
that 86 percent have terrain parks, 52 percent have half-pipes,
and almost a quarter have super-pipes. (What's a super-pipe?
Think vertigo sidewalls the size of a house, and skiers and riders
dropping down them.) As a result, resorts are offering classes
and employing new safety measures for using modern terrain features.
freestyle and freeski moves are being incorporated into classes,
especially with age 19-and-under classes. As terrain features
blossom, the pros use them to teach skills and for fun. Almost
all kids' classes go into the terrain parks at least once
every day, and many focus exclusively on pipes and parks,
says Rich Burkley, managing director of the Ski and Snowboard
Schools of Aspen.
But with the
rapid proliferation of terrain features coupled with the courage
of youth, terrain parks can turn into trauma parks.
In an effort to reduce potential and actual injuries and make
terrain parks safer, the National
Ski Areas Association (NSAA), PSIA,
AASI, Burton Snowboards and Ovo helmets united to create and promote
from skate parks becoming almost extinct because of the potential
liabilities, says Shaun Cattanach, Burton's Learn to
Ride and resort project manager. We don't want to see
the same thing happen on the slopes.
offers three safety messages. Look before you leap
encourages scoping jumps before hitting them and making sure landings
are clear and safe. Easy style it recommends starting
small, gaining proficiency and working your way up to bigger jumps
and tricks. Respect gets respects reminds skiers and
riders to regard others, from waiting in line to moving away from
landing zones rapidly.
will self-organize if they have a starting point, says Mark
Dorsey, assistant executive director of PSIA and AASI. We're
giving them information to do that.
Smart Style program is a clean, clear way to communicate the importance
of safety in the terrain park to all park riders, says Mike
Kaplan, senior vice president of mountain operations at Aspen
Skiing Company, which hosts the Winter
X Games, one of the most visible extreme sports
resorts have implemented increased safety precautions
and awareness messages such as We recommend helmets,
signs segregating levels of terrain parks and half- and quarter-pipes
into beginner, intermediate and advanced areas.
are posting responsibility code messages at each lift line, in
booklets and on local television broadcasts. Aspen Skiing Company
reached out to communicate safety through letters mailed to pass
holders and frequent visitors, videos and presentations to grade
school children and community gatherings that stressed the importance
of responsible skiing and riding. Increasingly, resorts are mandating
helmets for kids in classes and are offering discounts on helmets
to employees who set examples by wearing them.
At the higher
level, Stratton requires skiers and riders attend a safety awareness
course to gain access to the pro-level Power Park. Areas are also
creating designated intermediate and advanced parks specifically
for teaching jumps, tricks and aerials, and incorporating awareness
and safe techniques in lessons.
parks and super-pipes are part of 21st Century snow sports. We
support athletes pushing their limits and expressing themselves,
but we want to see them land their misty 540s and rodeo 720s in
one piece, says Dorsey.