The First Girls Only Terrain Park—Good Idea or Nah?

In late December or 2014, Utah’s Brighton Resort unveiled the first official girls-only terrain park. Complete with a flat box, down rail, and a small jump geared toward beginner and intermediate skill levels, the park allows female skiers and snowboarders to hone their terrain abilities without getting hassled by men. The area was named ‘Krista’s Park’ in honor of Krista Moroge, a long-time Burton Snowboards employee who passed away in 2010.

Brighton’s retail manager said girls and women remain underrepresented in rail jams and other events involving terrain skills. While there are a lot of talented guys out there strutting their stuff, not as many women appear to participate. “From what I have gathered,” she said, “girls are intimidated to ride the terrain parks with guys.” Krista’s Park provides an area where female skiers and snowboarders can perfect their trick techniques without “guys making fun of them or speeding by.”

Professional skier Grete Eliassen consulted on the project in the spring of 2014. She believes the area is a great place for women to practice their freestyle skills without feeling intimidated. “Brighton has a pretty tough scene in the terrain park with guys judging and yelling out comments. I think this will make it a lot easier for girls/women to enter the park and have a good time,” she said.

So, what do we think about this? To be honest, it feels like a good start to a broader conversation. Terrain parks and freestyle competitions are dominated by men, and park harassment may contribute to the lack of female participants. While it does feel a bit weird that this park is designed for beginners, it’s important to provide a safe space for women who want to experiment with this type of skiing and riding. Plus, we really have to admit—terrain parks are not the friendliest of places for any type of newbie. In all, this is a good start.

Our Terrain Park Pet Peeves

As we’ve already established, terrain parks hold a special place in our hearts. We’re not alone in this—skiers and boarders all over the world love hustling down the mountain just to catch some air on a tabletop jump. However, a lot of riders don’t understand terrain park etiquette. This is a huge bummer. Not only does this ruin the fun for everybody else, but improperly navigating a terrain park can be dangerous. Everybody has pet peeves, but these have some real safety implications.

If you have any pet peeves we haven’t listed, go ahead and send them our way! This is, first and foremost, a list of our least favorite things people do in terrain parks. However, if we gather enough info, we might be able to turn this into a safety guide of sorts.

 

  • Cutting a jump landing—Jumps can be massive, and if you’re a rider or skier, you can’t see to the other side once you pass the knuckle. Terrain park etiquette dictates that you don’t cut the jump’s landing. This will allow everyone some peace of mind—knowing they’re not going to land on or crash into someone as they come over the edge. As a rule of thumb, never cross in front of a jump’s downslope.
  • Disregarding the sign—Nearly all terrain parks are marked by a “Freestyle Area Ahead” sign. This notice will often include available hours, a code of conduct, and a safety warning. Don’t assume that all parks are the same, and don’t head down if you don’t plan to utilize the freestyle features. Review the sign before deciding to head down, especially if you don’t have much freestyle experience.
  • Not making an attempt—Not everybody likes terrain parks. We get it, and we’re not mad. We do, however, get angry when skiers and boarders use the terrain park as a cruising zone. These slopes are often at a softer gradient (to allow for jumps, rails, boxes, &c)–this makes them great for beginners and people who want to avoid more crowded trails, right? WRONG. If you decide to enter the park, you should at least try something. If you use it as a space to fly down the mountain, you could cause an accident.

A Quick and Dirty Review of Terrain Park Features

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably skied or boarded through a terrain park. If you’re a casual freestyle skier, you probably don’t have the terminology to describe specific park features or distinguish between amenities. Below, we have detailed the Big Three—the three types of features you are most likely to see.

 

Jibs—This is any type of fixture which can be ridden with a board or skis either parallel or perpendicular to the snow surface. You can spin on them, jump, and perform any number of tricks. A jib can be a:

Rail, which is a metal feature (round or flat) where the skier or boarder can slide across.

Box, which is similar to a rail, but wider and with a polyethylene surface.

Table Top, which is similar to a box but it much wider and often used by beginners.

Wall Ride, which is a vertical, wall-like surface.

Barrel, which is often shaped like a garbage can and allows riders to spin to and from the structure.

Rainbox, which is a box or rail that has a hump like a rainbow.

Jibs are not often used for catching air. Instead, they allow skiers and boarders to ride and perform tricks while skating on the item itself.

 

Jumps—Jumps are some of the most popular attractions in a terrain park. They can range from five feet to over one hundred feet high, but this varies by resort and park. These are often constructed entirely from snow and allow riders to do tricks like grabs, twists, spins, and flips. The most popular types of jumps are listed below.

Tabletop, which is a jump that looks like a trapezoid. The rider takes off from an incline, clears the flat part at the top, and lands on the downslope.

Step-down, which is a jump in which the landing is lower than the takeoff.

Step-up, which is when the landing is higher than the takeoff.

Gap, which is when the jump has a gap between the takeoff and landing (rather than a table).

Hip, which is when the jump has one landing perpendicular to the take-off.

The type of take-off, landing, and the size of the jump will determine how much space air you get off the top. Smaller jumps are often the easiest features of a terrain park.

 

Vertical—Vertical terrain park structures allow the skier or boarder to both jib and jump. They can either jib the rim of the vertical or use their momentum to clear the top. Popular vertical attractions include:

Half-pipe, which is a downhill trough with vertical lips on each side.

Quarter-pipe, which is a feature that has a vertical lip allowing the user to launch into the air and land on the same lip.

 

This Skate Park Helped Point the Way to Cooler Terrain Parks

NZ Terrain Park Guide is primarily about terrain parks for winter sports, but we also recognize that terrain parks themselves came directly out of the skater and skate park tradition. Moreover, rather than compete for the limelight, we’ve noticed that skate parks and terrain parks tend to rise and fall together in popularity. And the good news is that, although we haven’t seen the same trendy news headlines over the last couple years, both skate parks and terrain parks are still very much in their heyday and may yet still have further to rise.

In this light, we want to ask: Have you seen the Daybreak Sculpture Garden and Skate Park in South Jordan, Utah? Spohn Ranch Skate Parks and local landscape architects established a combination sculpture garden and skate park. And it works. Which is to say, the skate park is composed of art sculptures that speak to the local traditions of the community, but as a playground for skateboarders, it’s also nothing to scoff at. Even as it’s intimately connected with the neighborhood’s walking paths and green space, there are plenty of tricks and skills you can work on here.

Built in 2008, the ten-year anniversary of the Daybreak Sculpture Garden and skate park is right around the corner. This last decade has seen a tremendous amount of growth in terrain parks with ski resorts putting more of their resources into new and improved areas. Likewise, it’s not just an afterthought or some thing resorts have to check off the list if they want to be known as a first-rate ski resort area. Now, there is more thought put into their design—functionally and aesthetically. It doesn’t hurt, either, that designers and engineers know the resources are going to be there to take terrain park design to the next level.

Trick Review and How-To: Ollie

Skiers and snowboarders spend years perfecting their tricks in the terrain park. Most, however, start with the most basic jump known: The Ollie. Arguably the most widely used snowboard trick, this is an essential building block for other, more complicated tricks. Rather than jumping off the ground with two feet, you use the flex of your board to pop into the air. You can use it nearly anywhere—coming off jumps, while free-riding, hitting side walls, and cruising. The best part? It’s pretty dang easy. See below for our quick Ollie tutorial.

  1. Start on a flat area with a bit of weight in your front foot.
  2. Slide your board forward until all the weight is on the tail. The nose of your board should lift off the snow. This is called a tail press position.
  3. Then, snap off the tail and bring your feet up evenly. This will result in a jump.
  4. When landing, absorb the pressure and maintain balance by bending your knees.

Practice this a few times while on a flat surface, then begin to incorporate it on shallow, low-gradient runs. Try Ollie-ing over small items, such as sticks, gloves, snowballs, and—when you get more advanced—a person or a fence. Once you get more confidence, you can begin to increase your jump height by adding an ollie when you crest the knuckle or lip of a terrain park feature.