Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Progressive rails, a steep pipe, and early 80s butt rock.
When Waterville Valley dropped the backhoe blade into the earth to build its first in-ground halfpipe in 1988, there was exactly one other man-made pipe on the East Coast (at Stratton, Vermont since ’85) and no more than ten in the world. With that unceremonious load of dirt, the resort was forever entered into snowboarding’s history and--with its continued commitment to contests, events, and terrain improvements--snowboarding’s future.
Waterville built its first park called the Boneyard in ’89, it consisted of buried jibs like tires and the upper half of a school bus (they didn’t actually bury the whole bus), and it was only open to snowboarders. TheBoneyard is still in effect on Periphery, but now its focus is more on big hips along the trail embankment than buried scrap metal and rubber. These days, locals get up to Waterville Valley early in the mornings to avoid the afternoon “Cloudville Valley” effect, and the first place they go is the Exhibition Terrain Park and the Superpipe--the main dishes at this modest resort. They can be accessed via the Poma lift or the White Peak Quad, which takes riders to the top and drops them back down through the jumps, hips, banked turns, and rolls of the boardercross course on Upper Bobby’s and Psyched.
The terrain and obstacles in theExhibition Park were increased by 40 percent last winter with nine new handrails, including a rainbow rail, a bow-ledge rail, and a straight-bar rail--for a total of thirteen rails. Snowboard Director Mike Bettera says to look for six more custom-designed rails this season. According to local shred Eric Kovall, “The new handrails and the Superpipe were the big improvements we needed. Waterville’s definitely got the newest and most progressive rails on the East Coast.”
Riders can hit about four obstacles each pass through the park. The last obstacle is the infamous quarterpipe at the bottom, which gets sessioned hard all winter.The park staff keeps it fresh and flowing by changing things up every couple weeks.
Thenew in-ground 400-foot Superpipe has a steep pitch for wicked-fast runs. The pipe is fully accessorized with a yurt to get out of the bitter New Hampshire cold, and there’s a booming sound system in the park. According to Kovall, the speakers blare a pre-1985 New Hampshire rock station--consider yourself lucky if you hear Iron Maiden: “It’s awful--silence would be better.”
The Little Slammer beginner park on Lower Periphery and a snowskate park are located outside Competition Center at the base of the mountain, rounding out the freestyle options on-hill. Off-hill, Waterville has a mini ramp located underneath the lodge for all skateboarders with a lift ticket to use.
March is the season for good-time events. Waterville has built a great reputation for hosting Red Bull Schooled, The Volcom Peanut Butter And Rail Jam and, in the past, the World Quarterpipe Championships. Local shreds like Eric Kovall, Jamie MacLeod, Andrew Mutty, Dan Garrity, and Pat Moore are sure to be there to show you how it’s done--East Coast style.
The Mexican restaurant at the base lodge and Jugtown Sandwich shop both come highly recommended for lunch, and at the end of the day, try T-Bars for on-hill drinking. For the combination of nightlife and dinner, check out Diamonds Edge North, but iff you want to meet some nice J.Crew/Abercrombie-style girls and boys, scramble twenty minutes down the road to the town of Plymouth. Just don’t stay at the Best Inn, we’re still boycotting them after they booted out all the snowboarders during the 2002 World Quarters--no love.--Annie Fast
Average annual snowfall: 120 inches
Summit elevation: 4,004 feet
Vertical drop: 2,020 feet
Number of lifts: 12
Shreddable acres: 255
Pipes: 1 Superpipe
Snowskate park: 1--rentals available, 10 dollars for two hours.
Nearby skatepark: Rye Airfield, Portsmith, New Hampshire, ryeairfield.com
Local shop: Eastern Boarder, Nashua New Hampshire (603) 888-0722
Ticket price: $39 adults, $29 teens (ages 13--18)
Web site: snowboardwaterville.com