Waterville Valley, New Hampshire—If you follow the weather patterns of the U.S., you end up in a region of the country that is often misunderstood and stereotyped. To most people living outside of New England, this region is often known as the “Ice Coast, a given name that does not accurately reflect the area. New England seems to have a reputation of freezing cold weather, icy pipes, and hard landings … however, if you actually ride here, the parks are incredibly groomed, the pipes precisely cut, and it has an atmosphere of a friendly family. We also tend to forget that some of today’s dominating forces; Pat Moore, Scotty Arnold, Danny Garrity and Scotty Lago came from the North East—the White Mountains area of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has been one of the leaders for producing dominating parks in the East, specifically Waterville Valley Resort and Loon Mountain, and one brave soul has made the long move from Lake Tahoe to head up the park crew of one of New Hampshire’s premiere resorts — Waterville Valley, and I sat down with him to find out why:
Phil Mathews: Welcome to Waterville Valley … Lets start with some basic background information … where you’re from, etc?
John Webster: I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I moved out to Colorado to go to school at Colorado University in 1998 and really started to get into parks at Breckenridge and Vail. After CU I headed out to Lake Tahoe and worked as a patroller at Northstar-at-Tahoe.
PM: How did you get involved with the park scene?
JW: All the other patrollers wanted nothing to do with the park…I was really into it … so I started working more and more with the park crew, helping out with events, photo shoots and The Team Challenge. That summer I headed down to New Zealand and ran the park at Mt. Ruapehu, on the Whakapappa side.
PM: That must have been quite an experience … did you move back to Northstar after Ruapehu?
JW: Yeah, after the winter in NZ I headed back to Northstar. I worked it out with the park manager and was done with patrol for good.
PM: How did you hear about the Waterville Valley park manager Position? Were you approached by Mike Bettera (Booth Creek’s Youth-Marketing Manager)?
JW: This past summer I had actually left Tahoe and was not sure what the next step for me would be … my old roommate Josh Chauvet, Snow Park Technologies Operations Manager, was the one who got in touch with me about the position at Waterville Valley. Through Josh I was put into contact with Bettera and like a month later I am here with dirty hands from painting the jibs.
PM: What were your first thoughts of heading cross country to head up an East Coast park?
JW: I was stoked because I know the reputation that this place has! It seemed like a great opportunity to continue to do what I love and bring some different ideas to an already rad establishment.
PM: How do you feel about the move from West Coast to East? It is often stereotyped as being the “Ice Coast… was this an issue for you in your decision to accept the position?
JW: No, I grew up skiing in these ‘feared’ conditions in western NY … no matter where you go, hard pack is everywhere. For example, the place I worked at in NZ had a whole crew dedicated to de-icing the lifts and believe it or not, there are bad days in Tahoe. I think the East Coast get a bad rep a lot of the time and people need to ride here and experience the amazingly groomed parks and incredibly cut pipes—hopefully first hand experience will break the negative stereotype the region has.
PM: What do you have in mind to keep Waterville Valley as having one of the top NH and New England parks?
JW: I want to continue to do what has done in the past … it works … and if there are things I see that maybe I have a different idea about or that the riders see, we can make some changes and improvements. We might not have the huge powder dumps like out West, but that is not what makes a good park. A goood park is made with a combination of the riders input and a hard working innovative grooming staff.
PM: I’m glad this is something you really want to push — input from the people actually riding the terrain is the best you can get. Do you feel your creative freedom and knowledge of park building can rank Waterville Valley with dominating parks like Mammoth and Northstar?
JW: I think that places like Northstar and Mammoth gain the reputations they have by offering something for everyone. Sure we all see the shots in Transworld of the uber booters and crazy set-ups, but the true test is the day-to-day parks. As long as you offer something for everyone, you can be just as successful.
PM: Any new features we should be looking out for in the parks this season? rails, boxes, hits?
JW: We have a new box … a shark fin box … it’s kinda like a half rainbow to step down … it’s rad.
PM: I’m running out of ideas … anything else you want to say?
JW: Once the season gets started I want to explore what we have done and what we can do with the resources we have and I am stoked to be at Waterville and looking forward to meeting everyone who rides here!
For more information Waterville Valley terrain parks, please call 800-GO-VALLEY or visit www.snowboardwaterville.com.