Southern California is home to some of the most advanced terrain parks around. But increasingly the skill levels of riders that these parks cater to is progressing, leaving room for only the most experienced riders. The staff at Mountain High, in Wrightwood, California feel that it's time for a change in terrain design so that the rest of the snowboarding world can enjoy parks along with the pros.
“We owe riders more variety and a safer environment,” says Mountain High General Manager and Director of Marketing Brad Wilson. So this past summer, Mountain High set out to realize that dream by elisting the help of professional snowboarder Jimi Scott and veteran park builder Keith Pfahler. What was produced are three innovative new terrain parks: the Bowl, the Snake Run, and the Washboard Quarterpipe. The Bowl, which is 80 feet in diameter, is connected to a mini-halfpipe surround by four hips and three tables. The Snake Run is a quarter of a mile in length and made up five turning banks and six hip jumps, all connected for a continuous ride. And finally, boasted to be the highest and widest in all of Southern California, the Washboard Quarterpipe is lead into by large pumpable rollers (hence its name) for speed leading into and out of the quarterpipe; and like the other two features, it's built for all levels of riders.
The idea for this sort of park was first conceived back at the end of the '98/99 season, after Scott met with Wilson after a photo shoot at Mountain High. Wilson informed Scott of their plans for refurbishment on the mountain, Scott expressed his interest in building a new park. “I liked his ideas, and we hit if off,” says Wilson.
During the construction of the mountain's new high-speed quad, the Blue Ridge Express, close to 1,300 square yards of dirt were displaced, enabling the resort to build Scott's vision of the three new terrain features. “That's a lot of dirt, and the timing was perfect,” says Wilson. Around 50,000 dollars and a solid month of cat time later, as well as a sponsorship from Vans, Wilson says, “Everything is absolutely poised for snow.”
When conceptualizing his idea, Scott actually built a rendition of the parks at the beach in the sand. Then he went through the sand park with a video camera as if he were a miniature snowboarder. After Vans got a hold of this footage, they were sold on the idea within the first 30 seconds of viewing.
Jay Wilson (no relation to Brad), Vans' president of global marketing, is excited by the park. “We Vans love creativity and people with great ideas,” he says. “To sponsor the park is just good marketing.” Vans will be the sole sponsor of the three FaultLine terrain parks and intends to reproduce similar parks worldwide.
In designing the parks, Scott drew influence from the concrete skate parks he's been skating his whole life. That's where the idea for the snake run and bowl came from, and why no one had seen anything like this on the snow before. “Being a pro athlete in the sport of snowboarding for ten years,” says Scott. “I feel that this is my contribution to the sport. As for the quarterpipe, it was fashioned after the washboard quarterpipe in Winchester but is tailored for snowboarders.”
In an attempt to break away from parks littered with super-pipes and tabletops that only the high-level riders can in enjoy, Mountain High has created a park that can be enjoyed by anyone. “From five to 40 feet of air, the park is for everyone,” says Brad Wilson.
The park will be maintained by co-designer Keith Pfahler, who says it's almost completely cat-groomable for easy upkeep of terrain. The parks will also be lit until 10:00 p.m. seven days a week.