Snowboarders and skiers will have to sign a waiver and get a special pass to ride in Snow Summit, California's Super Park this season. The decision was made by management to give better riders an area to themselves, to let beginners and mainstream riders have other park to learn in without getting in the way of better riders, and to protect the resort from increasing liability concerns.
“I think we're the first resort in the country to do it,” says Snow Summit President Dick Kun of the special park pass. “We've been concerned about people who had no business taking some of the larger hits.” He hopes this will help keep those people away from the features made for the better riders.
Addressing the liability concerns that have developed with the gaining popularity of terrain parks at the resort, Kun says, “The signed waiver is an excellent step that gives us increased protection beyond the regular doctrine of “Assumption of Risk” in California tort law.” He's patterning the move after the requirements of signed liability waivers at skateparks.
Knowing that the administrative process of collecting the waivers will be a hassle for both management and customers, the resort has tried to make the process as easy as possible. The waivers can be downloaded from Snow Summit's Web site and brought, already signed, to the resort, or the waiver can be picked up at the resort. After the waiver and a one-time fee of five dollars is received, the resort will take a picture of the rider and give them a special Super Park Pass good for the entire season. Riders under age eighteen must have a parent or guardian sign it as well, and if the parent isn't present, the release must be confirmed by a notary public.
On the mountain, Snow Summit plans on building the new Ego Trip Super Park designed for high-caliber riders and pros. The park will feature big, technical jumps that are recommended only for an advanced-level rider.
Kun admits that there's no way to test people to see if they are good enough to ride in the Super Park, but he hopes that if they aren't, they won't go through the bother of getting the Super Park Pass. The park will be located under one of the two bottom-to-top high-speed quads at Summit, giving riders a good view of what's required before they enter it. It will be gated and fenced in, and will have a monitor at the gate checking all the passes. Anyone who gets in without a Super Park Pass is likely to have their ticket pulled.
The resort will also offer five other park runs open to all snowboarders and skiers, including the flagship Westridge Freestyle Park–a mile-long, top-to-bottom run that features jumps, banks, and rails. There will also be a Supercross Track, a small-air park, and two halfpipes. The main difference between these and the Super Park is the former's lack of medium and large table jumps that are designed to allow the rider to get big air.
Snow Summit has been a leader in the development of snowboard parks and programs because of the extremely high number of snowboarders it gets through the season. “I think we're the most snowboarded resort in the nation,” says Kun.
The resort runs about 60 percent snowboarders, and he estimates that it gets 300,000 snowboarder visits a year out of its 450,000 to 500,000 annual totals.
Although Kun admits that he doesn't know for sure whether or not the resort will continue to require the signed release forms in the future, but he believes there's a good chance the program will stay in place: “This could be the wave of the future for all parks and the whole sport.”