Photos: Chris Wellhausen
Chris ‘Gunny‘ Gunnarson is the president of Snow Park Technologies. For those of you that don’t know what Snow Park Technologies is, they’re the park builders that build all of the biggest contest courses and custom park builds that you see throughout the pages of our magazine. SPT now has a new television show on the NatGeo channel on Thursdays called Mountain Movers. We decided what better time than now to catch up with Gunny, and find out all about Mountain Movers, and what the SPT guys are up to next.
Make sure to catch their show on the NatGeo channel on Thursdays!
How did the TV show come about? You guys have been building awesome parks for years, what made you want to make a TV show about it?
I guess the idea to do this show originally came from my pride in what Snow Park Technologies does. Our team has such enthusiasm for helping elevate the on-snow experience, and I really just wanted to share that with current, and future snowboarders to get people stoked about coming up to the mountains. I remember that I was watching some “tough guy” TV show- a term that I recently learned is sometimes used to describe our form of reality TV...as opposed to “tough to watch” reality TV like Pregnant Teen Housepets of Bel Air, or something like that- and I thought that the behind the scenes work that SPT does might make for a cool show because the work is pretty unique and very real, not fabricated drama like a lot of crap on TV now. I ran the idea through my friends at Wasserman Media Group, and Good Clean Fun, and they thought it was pretty cool too, so after a long series of events, Mountain Movers found it’s way to NatGeo. In the end, I really have to thank Chevy the most for making this show happen. They really believe in what SPT does as a company, and have supported us in so many ways. We use our Silverado trucks every single day as one of the biggest tools for the job, hauling our crew and equipment from one location to the next. The fact is, the very first vehicle I ever bought was a Chevy, and there’s been an unbroken line of trucks with bow ties in my garage ever since. I feel incredibly lucky to get to work with an iconic American brand that I have so much genuine love for.
What’s been your all time favorite build?
That’s hard because there have been so many good ones. X Games is always the most logistically challenging, because there are 8 different course venues that each have to be at the absolute pinnacle of their respective sport. Being able to pull that off, it’s pretty rewarding. A few other stand-out builds would be any of the Nixon JibFests, the Burton Big B, and probably the entire run at the DC MTN Lab. We have had some really good times on all of those builds, and so many others all over the world. It’s a long list!
What was the hardest part about filming the show? And what was the best?
The hardest part was that we were actually working on real projects, with real deadlines and very real expectations to live up to, so the pressure is already on us to deliver without any cameras around. The filming was secondary for our crew because the job always has to come first. But, SPT doesn’t go into anything half-assed, so we wanted to make sure that we gave the production team what they needed so they could do their job, too. In essence, it was like working on two jobs at once, and not wanting to compromise either one.
It was pretty cool to see how they were able to take each project that was filmed over several weeks and condense them down to a one-hour show without losing any parts that are critical to the story. My hat is off to Good Clean Fun. I think they did a great job. You have to remember that trying to document what is happening on our job sites is tough for a production crew of 15+ people; we work around the clock, in really large-scale spaces and usually in heavy winter conditions. It’s definitely no Hollywood set. I think this first Mountain Movers series will give people more appreciation for how complicated things can be when trying to build snow set-ups that match up to the level of progression and sheer talent of today’s pros. We are moving so fast all year from project to project and don’t take the time to celebrate the victories, so watching the final version of Mountain Movers at the end of the season is a nice reminder of how SPT has played a role in progressing winter action sports and that is really the best part.
What would you say to someone who watches the show and becomes inspired to try and do what you guys do? How would someone get into park building?
In general, I just hope that the show inspires people to try and be the best that they can be in whatever field or career path they choose even when the going gets tough. If working in the snow or at a resort terrain park is something that people want to get into, they should get a job at a local resort and do what they can to make a positive difference.
My two pieces of advice for those who are serious about terrain park work: 1) Try to get a job at one of SPT’s partner resorts since they all have outstanding park programs, and 2) Don’t just focus solely on trying to build the most perfect jump or rail setup for you and your buddies who already rip, which is great for one aspect of parks. More importantly, I suggest trying to gain as much knowledge about all aspects of general resort operations, understanding varying snow conditions, working well within a team effort, executing a well thought-out plan, acknowledging the wide variety of riders who want to experience freestyle terrain at all ability levels and always being prepared for everything to change with one little chuckle from Mother Nature. She has a wicked sense of humor! If you can figure all of that out, pay your dues at one of partner our resorts and prove you have what it takes, then maybe working for SPT is in your future.
Were there ever times when the filming of the show slowed you guys down from doing builds?
Yes. Always. There are already so many factors that we can’t control that can, and do, cause significant delays or totally throw a monkey wrench into anything that we do. We always try and stay out in front of our deadlines since any number of tough circumstances can put us behind very quickly. It became pretty nerve-racking at times when the production slowed our build schedule down to the point where we had no time margin for adverse weather, mechanical failure or any other thing that could put a project in jeopardy. After all that stress and effort, I hope people are into watching Mountain Movers! If not, at least I’ll have a set of DVD’s to someday show my grandkids what I used to do for a living once I am too old to remember ever even doing it.
Anything else you want to say?
I have to give huge credit to the entire team at SPT for everything they do and for putting up with the making of the Mountain Movers show. I push them all really hard to excel in every possible way, and they never let me down. Their work ethic and skill is unparalleled, and their drive to truly propel these sports is something I am really proud of. If we go to a season two of Mountain Movers, we have some crazy projects to unveil, but right now I think we all need to take some break time with our families and maybe go sleep on a beach somewhere…