By John Poulin and Ian Frisch
Originally published in the November 2009 issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding, Volume 23. 3
#1 Park: Mount Snow, Vermont
Carinthia park lived up to the hype. Mount Snow's 95-acre all-mountain park showed East Coast riders the light this winter with both proper and creative jumps and jibs littered around the mountain like a skatepark. The Carinthia parks featured a variety of table and cheese wedge style jumps in nearly every imaginable size as well as a slew of creative jibs, like a tree jib park run with all wooden rails. They put on a good show hosting the Winter Dew Tour in January, and with the local shreds in mind, left the pro-level slopestyle course intact for riders from all over the East to test their skills on the same stage as Lago and Torstein. And of course, the Dew Tour pipe was all time. The park crew is a tight group of local up and comers that are equally as proficient with the board as they are with the rake, keeping features dialed when they're not dialing in their own tricks.
It's easy to see why riders choose Mount Snow as their favorite overall resort, with a lively base area, the Winter Dew Tour, a Learn To Ride school, and when you factor in the skate ramp on the deck of the base lodge, it becomes apparent that Mount Snow is truly a shredder's paradise.
#2 Park: Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
Ride in a warm gondola to the summit, rip down the mountain through various shred-parks and end with a bang throughout a mile-long, terrain-park-battlefield chuck full of goodies? Yeah, we like that idea too. Loon is all about options, and has built a reputation for having a varied, slopestyle setup consisting of mellow, versatile and innovative features such as their signature hubba stair setup, 12-foot-tall wallride and numerous jump lines. "It's not all about just individual features," says Terrain Park Development Manager Jay Scambio. "It's about the entire experience."
#3 Park: Seven Springs, Pennsylvania
Besides having the number-one superpipe on the East Coast, Seven Springs decks out five trails with an entire galaxy of rails, jibs, booters and kickers of different sizes and orientations, with an emphasis on dedicated resources. "We have an amazing 29-person staff," says Director of Action Sports Joel Rerko. And Seven Springs continues to step it up: For the 2010 season, they have added a mind-blowing 40 new rail features to their arsenal of jibbery, bringing their rail count up to just shy of 60.
#4 Park: Big Boulder, Pennsylvania
No elephants. No bearded ladies. No trapeze artists. "We stay away from circus-style features," says Director of Freestyle Terrain Ian Oliver. "We focus on the basic essentials." It's simple: handrails, boxes and hubbas. And with nearly 75 jibs strewn throughout their seven terrain parks (not to mention jumps ranging from ten-foot mini-booters to a 60-foot step-down kicker), Big Boulder is hardly the shred-spot to get trite and boring.
#5 Park: Okemo, Vermont
Cranking things up for the 2010 season, Okemo is not only featuring their signature Sobe bus as a full-on jib rather than a wall-ride, but also a concrete, urban-style ledge--truly bringing the city to the mountain. S-rails, c-boxes, stair features, kink rails, and booters of various sizes round out the rest of the field. "We're keeping it fresh," says Dennis Brady, who leads the charge in the park. "We eat food, hang out, and draw out ideas on napkins--lots of brainstorming." And amongst the ketchup stains, these guys have some legitimate ideas written out.
Click to page 2 for Best Resorts
#1 Resort: Mount Snow, Vermont
#2 Resort: Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
Only two hours away from Boston, Loon is definitely a traveler's delight for a snow-overloaded, weekend getaway. With lodging options ranging from $60/night motel pads to $200/night on-the-mountain hotel suites, 312 acres of slash-able terrain spread over 55 trails, and Plymouth State University (PSU) in close proximity, Loon is bursting at the seams with loyal snow-hounds. "A lot of PSU students work here, and find their way back after growing up," says Marketing Manager Stacy Lopes. "We are unique because of the loyalty we encounter."
#3 Resort: Seven Springs, Pennsylvania
Seven Springs has it all. Unofficially nicknamed "The Cruise Ship," Seven Springs guarantees that "the furthest you'll walk for anything is a quarter-mile," says Communications Manager Anna Welltz. And she means anything. You can go bowling, swing a putter in an indoors mini-golf course, hit up an arcade, take a snowmobile tour, eat and drink at 11 restaurants and three bars, and shoot shotguns at a sporting facility all in the same weekend.
#4 Resort: Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
Over two million visitors trek to Mont-Tremblant every year, 130 miles over the Vermont/Canadian boarder, to occupy the village's 1,900 lodging units in 13 hotels and take advantage of the mountain's Avalanche snowmaking system. That's over 1,000 snow guns! The Mont-Tremblant village promotes European architecture, a Quebecois vibe, fine French cuisine and numerous DJ-fueled night-spots. Back on the mountain, they offer twice-a-day tours of all the mountain's secret nooks and crannies from true Tremblant connoisseurs.
#5 Resort: Okemo, Vermont
Sunk deep in the belly of Vermont, Okemo has a hardcore reputation for being a safe bet for consistent and reliable snow quality. "We're known for our fast recovery when Mother Nature throws us a curveball," says Director of Public Relations Bonnie MacPherson. They also boast the most glide-to-your-doorstep, slopeside lodging on the East Coast with over 700 rooms, and an evenly divided terrain for beginners, intermediate and expert shredders. A shuttle bus is available for schlepping mountain-goers back and forth between lodging and Ludlow village too. So go ahead, order you and your honey-dip another round at the bar. The ride home is taken care of!
Click to page 3 for Best Pipes
#1 Pipe: Seven Springs, Pennsylvania
Seven Springs is becoming a perennial contender in the pipe category. They made it into the top five for pipe in last year's Resort Poll, and by the time you read this they'll be popping champagne from the number one spot. Seven Springs, a Snow Park Technologies park (think Northstar and Bear), has two pipes--both a thirteen foot pipe and an eighteen-foot Superpipe. Last season, the resort invested in a Bombardier winch to assist in grooming the Zaugg-cut Superpipe, which according to Director of Action Sports, Joel Rerko, is likely what pushed them into first this year. Joel says, "Seven Springs is dedicated to having a good pipe, it's hard to build and maintain one on the East Coast, and it's one of the things that we really focus our energy and resources on here. It's something that separates us from the other resorts." The 450-foot long Superpipe was up by early February last year, and is maintained every other night through the winter.
Don't Miss: The new local contest series this winter--Packed Jacked 'n' Stacked--consisting of two rail events, halfpipe, and Slopestyle.
#2 Pipe: Mount Snow, Vermont
Mount Snow's 450-foot-long, 18-foot-tall, 17-degree-pitched superpipe has been buzzing amongst New Englanders for its top-notch quality and convenient location on the hill. "We use SMI PoleCats to make the pipe's snow," says Freestyle Terrain Manager Ken Gaitor, "which are way higher in quality than normal air/water snowguns." Stationed right in front of the Carinthia main lodge, the pipe is in the perfect spot for contests, such at the annual The Dew Tour. "It's great for spectators," Gaitor added. "And you can access it from two different chairlifts."
#3 Pipe: Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
Loon's half-tube faces dead north, giving each wall of the 450-foot-long, 18-foot-tall superpipe equal amounts of sunlight (not too soupy but not too stiff--perfect!). Stationed as the last feature in their main park, Loon's monster pipe gets a thumbs-up reputation because of its consistent maintenance, getting cut four time per week. "If it's your last run of the day," says Terrain Park Development Manager Jay Scambio, "we want to make sure it ends on a good note."
#4 Pipe: Okemo, Vermont
Remember laser-pointers in middle school? Okemo has brought the trend back by implementing laser-technology to their Zaugg pipe-cutter, making for extreme precision and a perfect cut. The Ross-Powers-endorsed, 500-foot-long superpipe is also stacked with an 18-degree pitch (more speed; more air-time!) to accompany its 18-foot walls. Although Okemo's laser lightshow isn't as insane as a techno club, the high-energy vibe of its clientèle is mutual; they're still featuring the towrope for endless laps without hiking a step.
#5 Pipe: Nubs Nob, Michigan
Although the first mountain in the mid-west to construct a no-joke, 300-foot-long, 18-foot-tall superpipe six years ago, Nubs Nob doesn't stop there at showcasing the importance of a killer pipe for its Michigan-based shred-dogs. "It's not part of an existing run," says Nubs Nob's terrain park guru Jim Bartlett. "It's its own trail with its own, private lift--there are no issues with skiers flying across your path; you can't stumble into this thing."