Beaver Creek changing terrain parks
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK – Beaver Creek Resort will be making some changes to its terrain park features this winter, changes that local park skiers and snowboarders are a little worried about.
Beaver Creek is commonly referred to as the locals’ mountain, and a big reason for the locals’ love is the resort’s terrain parks.
Rumors began circulating throughout the park-riding community within the last couple of weeks that the resort was making some changes, causing local skiers and riders to begin talking about what it could mean for the park community.
“We’re leading the industry, and now we’re taking it away?” said Jason Chrzan, a Beaver Creek snowboard instructor.
Rich Staats, founder of Ridethebeav.com, said everyone who uses the terrain parks is concerned. He said Beaver Creek, and especially John Garnsey, has been “so awesome about allowing us to progress as a park community,” so riders are a little apprehensive about any major adjustments.
Garnsey is co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division and until this summer was the chief operating officer of Beaver Creek. Doug Lovell is the new chief operating officer.
Lovell said changes are being made because the resort wants to create progression within its park products. There had been a lot of mixing of various ability levels in the different parks and the resort felt that was a conflict.
“We’re trying to align our parks with the users and we’re trying to create progression in our freestyle terrain,” Lovell said. “We want a place where beginners can go, where families can go with kids and an area for expert riders to go and have fun so they’re not all in the same area competing.”
Garnsey said the resort has been working on ways to improve traffic flows of skiers and riders, and the terrain park modifications would try to help accomplish some of those improvements.
Staats said he’s always been aware of the area where the superpipe traffic intersects with beginner and intermediate traffic as a problem area. Skiers and riders would have to maintain some speed to get through the flat spot beneath the pipe, which is the same area where the beginner and intermediate traffic also funnels toward.
Moving things around, though, will take away one of the features that so many riders love about Beaver Creek – the fact that they can do a top-to-bottom terrain park run on the mountain’s continuous parks.
“The Beav’ is known for having a fun, flowing park line,” said Mike Hardaker, a loyal Beaver Creek rider and frequent park photographer.
The Lumber Yard, located near Spruce Saddle just off the Centennial chairlift, is in an area that tends to get congested. There’s also an issue with often-times advanced park riders and skiers spilling out onto upper Latigo, where beginners and intermediates criss-cross with them.
Lumber Yard will not be located there this coming winter.
“The concept really isn’t to reduce the number of (park) features – we just don’t feel the Lumber Yard is in the right place,” Lovell said.
The Lumber Yard features could be incorporated into the top of the Rodeo park should the resort not be able to determine a new place for Lumber Yard. Moving the park would require construction and building, which would have to happen during the summertime, meaning it’s likely the Lumber Yard features this winter will be consolidated with the Rodeo or removed all together.
Lovell said he isn’t sure if there will be a net loss in terrain park features necessarily, but “potentially there could be.”
Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown said the resort wants to make sure guests have the best possible experience at the resort.
“We want to provide appropriate features in areas where they feel comfortable,” Brown said. “Yes, we are changing the terrain parks, but it’s to make them more appealing to all of our guests.”
Hardaker said snowboarding and park riding are how mountains remain cutting edge because snowboarding continues to evolve as a major winter sport – terrain parks are a major part of the sport.
The snowboarding half pipe competition was one of the biggest events in the Winter Olympics this year, and there’s a reason only two resorts in the West, Alta and Deer Valley, remain as skiing-only, Hardaker said.
Making the pipe smaller isn’t going to be better for beginners, either, Hardaker said. Smaller pipes equal injuries because he said you need a large pipe to make room for a lot of transitions.
“Local professional snowboarders have trained for years in the Beaver Creek pipe, including Hoytt Hotel, Josh Hemminger, Josh Malay (RIP), Travis Young, Rachel Nelson and the Rodriquez brothers,” Hardaker said. “Not to mention all the locals, visiting tourists, families and especially the ski school that love to go through the pipe on a daily basis.”
Lovell said the changes would create areas that appeal to more user groups and will make the features more ridable in certain areas.
“We think the 13-foot pipe will get used more than our 18-foot pipe,” Lovell said. “A larger percentage of the Beaver Creek guest would be able to use that as opposed to an 18-foot pipe.”
Scaling back terrain has gotten the park community interested and fired up, said local park rider Mick Van Slyke, who has been riding Beaver Creek since 1996.
The inter-mingling of people with different ability levels is the name of the game, Van Slyke said.
“That’s kind of how a mountain works in general – everyone will be at a slightly different level,” Van Slyke said.
Van Slyke predicts that advanced riders will start scouting out more natural features to hit, which could create more risks.
“If you’re riding natural stuff, I think it’s a lot harder to control the flow of where people are going or what they’re doing as opposed to having a designated area,” Van Slyke said.
The changes are a reminder to park riders that terrain parks are a privilege, Staats said. Before resorts built parks, skiers and riders were left to find natural features to do tricks on or they had to make their own features.
“We all need to be reminded that it’s a gift, and we’re not entitled to it,” Staats said.
That’s why Staats created something called the “Positivity Project,” which is a pledge to “not act like a Bozo,” he said. He doesn’t want a few bad apples to spoil the bunch in terms of park riders who behave inappropriately or irresponsibly on the mountain -bad apples he hopes aren’t the reason for the upcoming changes at Beaver Creek.
“The (park) community gives back a lot more than it takes away,” Staats said, referring to Love for the Ladies, a park benefit for breast cancer, as one example.
The parks are an important part of Beaver Creek, and reducing or eliminating them will disappoint the people that should matter to the resort most, Staats said.
“We get it, that the target clientele doesn’t want to rough it,” he said. “But the people who do want to are the people working for the resort, so don’t forget about them.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.