2012 Resort Poll: Top 10 Parks

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Big jumps and a gang of rails are all crucial elements for a good park, and many have them, but it takes more than that to be a Top 10 Resort Poll park. Those that made the cut scored high in the areas like design, grooming, variety, vibe, and challenge. Whether you’re a beginniner looking to hit your first rail or you’re ready to try your first double cork, these parks have you covered.

1. Buttermilk, CO

The Buttermilk part is the reigning champ for the 3ed year in a row because they build jumps that you can do this on.
The Buttermilk part is the reigning champ for the 3ed year in a row. Mikkel Bang shows you why. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

Returning for the three-peat win in the park category, Buttermilk continues to push the level of what’s possible with a terrain park. “There are so many lines that you can switch it up all day and never ride the same thing twice,” says Aspen/Snowmass Terrain Park Manager Greg Boyd. S3 and The Buttermilk Main Park are the central parks- the latter an amazing, lung-crushing two-miles long from start to finish-with smaller ones scattered throughout. Jumps range from five-feet all the way to 80, moving up in 10-foot increments so that everyone has something to learn and progress on. After the X games, the Big Four jump line on the lower Main Park is left intact, as is the Superpipe. The design, build, and maintenance are premium quality all season long thanks in part to Buttermilk’s 100-percent return rate for park staff for three years in a row. The veteran crew knows all the details of the runs, like where the snow pockets and speed are. Every night they work the natural terrain features to get everything buffed out before the lifts fire up in the morning. New this year are several log features and scraps gleaned from around the resort, including large steel drums, old lift towers, and handrails. The crew Zaugg-cuts the side of every platform and jump in the lower parks, adding tranny options to what was just dead space-every last thing is now hit-able!—J.S.

Buttermilk

2. Snowmass, CO

Eric Willet enjoys an empty Snowmass Park. This wasn't a private day, it's always like this. PHOTO: Scott Serfas
Eric Willet enjoys an empty Snowmass Park. This wasn't a private day, it's always like this. PHOTO: Scott Serfas

This year, Snowmass climbed three spots by adding a couple key elements to an already prime park including the addition of a new Superpipe cutter, and the resulting number-one ranked Superpipe. And it seriously upgraded the snowmaking capabilities with a fresh York system that gets the park and pipe open earlier than ever. “We call it the snow farm,” says Snowmass Terrain Park Manager Greg Boyd. Variety defines the snowmass park- from jibby features packed into crannies, to Zaugg-cut transitions for slashin’, and multi-use elements like the new pole jam. “The features stay in great shape because of slightly less traffic than other resorts-but our park crew makes sure they’re the best maintained in the industry, says Boyd.—J.S.

Snowmass

3. Keystone, CO

Matt Guess handplanting the hell out of Keystone's wallride. PHOTO: Darcy Bacha
Matt Guess handplanting the hell out of Keystone's wallride. PHOTO: Darcy Bacha

Keystone’s A51 park continues to define park building, layout, and progression with some of the most innovative step-ups. Keystone has separated its park “bowl” (serviced by its own double chair) into five trails of freestyle terrain divided by difficulty. Find the mini-shred line on Freda’s incubato, drop in on Park Lane’s medium jump line, or take a cruise through I-70 for street style features, which funnel into the Superpipe. When you’re ready to step it up, Main Street boasts the big boy triple line and creative features including a flat, cliff-style takeoff, and cement Jersey Barriers. If you’re in the market for terrain park nirvana, this is it. —T.L.

Keystone

4.June Mountain, CA

The ole' ball and chain's at it again at June Mtn. Fabian Fassnacht. PHOTO: Kevin Westenbarger
The ole' ball and chain's at it again at June Mtn. Fabian Fassnacht. PHOTO: Kevin Westenbarger

Flow: To move freely from one place to another. If this sounds appealing, you’ll dig the Unbound parks at June- they surge like an unmolested Sierra trout stream. Small fry can navigate the small-to-medium features in the Mambo Park, and for the more advanced, there’s the Upper-Sunrise Jib Park, which transitions into the medium-to-large kickers, hips, and rails of the Sunrise Park. Beginning to end, if you stop you’re missing the whole point.

June Mountain

5. Mammoth Mountain, CA

Jumps on jumps on jumps in the Mammoth Park
Jumps on jumps on jumps in the Mammoth Park. PHOTO: Mammoth Mountain

The Unbound Terrain Parks are a big kid’s playground.The intermediate riding starts with South Park’s kicker land, packed with 15-to-30-foot jumps. Or duck into the trees of Forest Trail Park. If you’ve got the skills, ride with the pros on the 60-to-80 foot booters in the Main Park. And don’t forget the JLA Art Park where you an do some creative jibbing on some creative works.

Mammoth

6. Northstar-At-Tahoe, CA

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Chas Guldemond sending the hip at Northstar-At-Tahoe. PHOTO: Northstar-At-Tahoe

Parks are the pride of this Sierra-based resort, and they collab with some of the best. Snow Park Technologies, the same group that builds the X Games and Dew Tour features, sculpts four runs. Shaun White helped design the Superpipe, and Torstein Horgmo consulted on the DC straits Park. Burton represents with the natural wood goodies of the Stash Park and the Progression Park.

Northstar-At-Tahoe

7. Whistler/Blackcomb, CA

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Clint Allen went so big off this jump that he almost got his head cut off by a helicopter. Yeah that's right there was a helicoptor in the Whistler/ Blackcomb park. PHOTO: Ashley Barker

There’s everything from ride-on-rails to 80 foot tables spread across Whistler/ Blackcomb’s parks, and it’s growing- each year it invests 30,000 dollars in new jibs. Start in the locals’ favorite Habitat Park on Whistler, covering three runs. To see what Blackcomb’s holding, take the Peak 2 Peak gondola to the Nintendo Terrain Park. Halfway down choose between the massive booters of the Highest Level Park, or mini pipe before hopping on the Catskinner Chair for another hot lap.

Whistler/ Blackcomb

8.Timberline, OR

And you thought Timberline was just the spot to go in the summer time?
And you thought Timberline was just the spot to go in the summer time? PHOTO: Timberline Resort

Rethink chasing endless winter and take a trip to Timberline-it’s got the only freestyle terrain open 12 months of the year. During the winter, parks cover over 100 acres and three runs off the Stormin’ Normin chair. But starting in June, they climb with the snowline to the Magic Mile chair. In August, the Palmer Park is built higher still by the Palmer chair, before the whole cycle starts again in November.

Timberline

9. Breckenridge, CO

Sondre Tiller boosting off a jump in Brecks Freeway Park. PHOTO: Frode Sandbech
Sondre Tiller boosting off a jump in Brecks Freeway Park. PHOTO: Frode Sandbech

When you’re the first stop of the Dew Tour, your scene has got to be tight. Breckenridge brings it correct year after year with an A-grade superpipe, a smooth flow of jibs and tables in Park Lake, and Freeway’s gigantic jump lines. Add to the mix three smaller progression terrain parks and a mini-shred pipe, and it’s easy to see why this is the place to be.

Breckenridge

10. Sierra-At-Tahoe, CA

So much happening at the Sierra-At-Tahoe park. Options galore!
So much happening at the Sierra-At-Tahoe park. Options galore! PHOTO: Sierra-At-Tahoe

Do you want soft, slushy jumps? A jibfest of features? How about boardercross laps? It’s all here and precisely tuned. Bashful Park laps are prime time and really shine come spring. With Snow Park Technologies dialing in the parks, the South Shore’sonly Superpipe (it’s even shaded to boot), and a new Burton Riglet park for groms, it’s nearly impossible to not be stoked at Sierra.

Sierra-At-Tahoe