Where is this magical place immune to the whims of nature? According to you, it’s Park City, Utah-the number-one-rated park in our annual 2005 Resort Guide Readers’ Poll, as well as one of the top-five ranked Superpipes. The goods are up ‘n’ running as early as Christmas vacation and stay consistently maintained through your other one-week vacation-spring break-and on into the slush season. After this article, it just might have one drawback … could get a little crowded.

Park City? Isn’t That The Place …

There isn’t any memory lane of snowboarding to stroll down at Park City. Chris Roach never, and Stevie Alters didn’t. The history here is more like a freshly paved highway that got laid down in 1996, the year Park City won the Olympic bid and lifted its snowboarding (gasp) ban. At this point, the gas pedal hit the floor-Superpipes were built, U.S. snowboarders scored a podium trifecta at the 2002 Olympics-hype and hoopla ensued. Seeing the golden goose before it, Park City shifted into overdrive, hiring a new park designer/marketer/rider named Jim Mangan. Mangan signed on some All-Star snowboarders, as well as hooking up a winch cat and building mega-kickers, a perfect Superpipe, and truckloads of rails, boxes, and wallrides. You know the saying, “If you build it, they will come”-and we did. Park City’s history might be short, but if time is relative to accomplishments, it’s some old news-with a bit of a shady past.

The King’s Crown Superpark

What followed next should be written down, Xeroxed, and handed out to every resort that ever dug a shallow grave and called it a halfpipe or built a snowboard park but forgot the landings and the maintenance. It’s a blueprint for how to execute a world-class park and pipe when money and snowcat time aren’t an issue.

The first park Mangan designed was for the 2002/03 season, a mere two years ago. Park City had a pipe and park the previous three years, but according to local riders, “They sucked.” The 2002 ad campaign came out in TransWorld SNOWboarding before the park was even built, featuring J.P. Walker, Jeremy Jones, Chris Engelsman, Chris Coulter, Micah McGinnity, Seth Huot, and George Oakley in B-ball jerseys all what-what, check out the park kids. Why would these shreds back up a park that wasn’t even there yet? We let Jim Mangan explain: “I wanted there to be this endorsement of the terrain park by the best riders in Utah. This led me to the idea of signature rails endorsed by the Park City All-Stars. They each designed their own signature rail, and we used this in the ads.

“Park City Mountain Resort didn’t have that great of a terrain park the previous year, so having the All-Star Team was somewhat of a gamble. The kids saw the ads and heard our claims, but needless to say there was skepticism. They’d seen it before, whether it was a resort or a snowboard company-a sick team and no substance to back it up. When the winter began, riders came in droves to Park City and were stoked on the parks. The endorsement of the All-Stars worked. It created a buzz that couldn’t help but provoke curiosity. Once the park was in place, people realized what we’re doing is no joke, and any doubters we had became believers.”

These days, most SLC pros make the trek up to shred Park City for some early-season training and when the backcountry isn’t hittin’. Most of them just ride the park, though-few pros have any idea of what lies beyond the frontside of the mountain. Filmers from Mack Dawg, Robot Food, Defective Films, and Grenade shot here last season. Burton holds annual photo shoots here, and TWS gets swamped with pictures of your favorite action-sports stars hittin’ the same kickers you can. This year’s All-Star Team roster includes Shaun White, Jeremy Jones, Mark Frank Montoya, Chris Engelsman, Chris Coulter, Scotty Arnold, George Oakley, Jessica Dalpiaz, and Erin Comstock.

Do you have what it takes to be an All-Star? The challenge awaits, the cameras are ready, annd the film is rollin’ at Park City-it’s a sure thing, kid.

The Nightlife

Park City can hold its own against some of the best resort towns, from Aspen and Breckenridge to Whistler. Put your mitts around a mocha and wander down Main Street. It’s packed with restaurants, nightclubs, coffee shops, boutiques, and people. For both food and nightlife, grab some sushi at The Flying Sumo, cheap food at Davanza’s Pizza, or step up to epic southwestern eats at Chimayo. Nothing lonely about Park City, although the word “City” might be a stretch-unless you’re talking about that two-week period in January known as the Sundance Film Festival. Main Street turns into a cattle corral full of L.A. types-Uggs and furs are prolific-but the slopes stay empty.

And, man, you need Harry O’s nightclub and Cicero’s-the foundation of a good vacation. Where else would you expect to see Paris Hilton and Nate Bozung partying within feet of each other?

Park City’s Three-Step “Pro-gram”

Step One: Jonesy’s Park

This beginner park was added last season to give riders a chance to try out a new lift (Bonanza) and explore the upper mountain a little bit. There are five medium, unintimidating tabletops in a row that are perfect for learning the basics, and even a few ride-on rails, rainbows, and boxes-even this park flows.

Step Two: Pick ‘N’ Shovel

The intermediate park gets just as much love as the main park. Look here for the 400-foot long Eagle Superpipe. There are three tabletops at 25 to 32 feet long, and one 35-foot-long step-down feature, just big enough to challenge an intermediate rider. Also more rails, boxes, and one helluva fun wallride, plus a new 50-foot-long hip at the bottom of the pipe next season.

Step Three: King’s Crown Superpark

It’s a narrow gauntlet down the steep face of Park City Resort. Expect to find three 40- , 50- , and 60-foot-long step-down jumps and a 70-foot-long hip in addition to the All-Star rails painted by local artists and a slew of other rails, boxes, and tables. If this park doesn’t improve your riding in a season, it’s only because it broke you off early on or maybe you didn’t have the balls to step up to it.

“I love park City because there’s three different parks to choose from, which makes it less crowded. My favorite is the Pick ‘n’ Shovel park-it’s perfect for learning tricks. Park City is really consistent with maintaining its park. There’s always a fun jump, rail, or pipe to ride.”-Erin Comstock “Hit up the pipe after one of the contests and you’ll be in heaven-I wish the pipes at Mt. Hood were this good. And the park on King’s Crown has larger jumps and rails. It’s awesome. I can finally stay at home and ride a great park.” -Chris Engelsman

“Utah has always lacked in the area of good snowboard parks, but Park City just came in and let go of their old-fashioned, traditional-skier “I hate snowboarders” mentality and built an epic park for snowboarders.”-Jeremy Jones “This park has an amazing triple line, plus great rails and a good pipe. It’s where I go to train in December because I know it’s going to be good the whole time.”-Shaun White