Progression at Loon Mountain
By Andrew Vetere
Ever dreamed of getting big air out of a Superpipe, but the walls are too
big? Or riding the kinked rail in but its too high off the ground? Or even
just throwing a 360 without being launched into outer space?
Hampshire’s Loon Mountain
accommodates freestylers of all skill. The resort offers six terrain parks
for boarders of all abilities. “[Terrain parks] are an area of interest for
kids,” says Public Relations Coordinator Phil Mathews. Loon Mountain
recognized the influence of the youth market to create their terrain park
system that caters to riders of all skills. Small to medium size jumps and
rails are found in the beginner-friendly Bear Island Park, located just off
Upper Bear Claw.
The Loon Mountain Park, commonly called LMP, is the resort’s signature
terrain park. The LMP is where riders go to get serious. Along with bigger
jumps, the park features several rails not made for beginners. Rails include
a battleship box, A-frame box, S-rail, and 36-foot wall-ride. “At 3,600 feet
in length…you can mix it up run after run and never hit the same line,”
according to the Loon Mountain
online terrain park report.
The variety of terrain that Loon offers for experienced and inexperienced
boarders is why Skiing magazine recently named their terrain park system,
according to Mathews, number one in New Hampshire and number three in the
east for 2006.
At the forefront of terrain park technology is the
Burton Progression Park. Loon recognized the success of terrain parks
and, with help from Burton Snowboards, designed the first park in the
country specifically for novice riders. The progression park offers
snowboarders, and skiers, a terrain park with small jumps and jibs as a
proper introduction to the freestyle aspects of the sport. “Terrains parks
are where it’s at… [Skiers and riders] want to get in and experience it
themselves,” says Shaun Cattanach, resort programs manager for Burton
Located on Little Sister, the Burton Progression Park has six
different scaled-down versions of features common in terrain parks
everywhere. The smallest jumps on the mountain are found in the progression
park. Rails and fun-boxes are only inches off the snow and designed
specifically for practice, according to the Loon Mountain website. Signs are
placed alongside each feature within the park. “Stop and Drop Zones,” as
they are called, show pictures of popular Burton snowboarders. The signs
also provide trick-tips and advice to novice riders.
Burton and Loon Mountain are taking snowboard instruction, especially
freestyle, to new levels that other resorts can’t, Cattanach says. The
Burton Progression Park is also used for Loon’s Progression Camps. Riders
ages 8-years and older can hone their skills in a freestyle lesson sponsored
by Burton’s Learn to Ride (LTR) program. On equipment provided by Burton,
riders are taught the basics of freestyle, such as body mechanics, edge
control, and Smart Style. Smart Style is a program designed by Burton and
the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) to promote terrain park safety and
Camps are held in the Burton Progressive Park where riders practice
before moving to the larger parks on the mountain. The goal of the camp is
to make riders feel welcome in terrain parks, not stupid, says Loon Mountain
Snowboard/Freeride Manager Luke Shelley.
Along with the Burton Progression Park and LTR seminars, Loon offers a
program called “Take 3, Ride Free” to introduce the sport to more people.
The program allows riders to take three lessons and receive a free season’s
pass upon completion of the third. Loon promises to have riders riding on
their novice terrain by the end of their first day, according to their
Snowboarders are noticing Loon’s efforts. More people have been using and
hanging around Loon’s terrain parks since the Dec. 30 introduction of the
Burton Progression Park, Shelley says. A recent mountain survey shows that
most of those riders are season’s pass holders “The more people that get out
and use the terrain, the better it is in general for snow sports,” Shelley
Vetere is a journalism and mass communications major at Saint Michael’s
College. He wrote this article as part of an internship with the Eastern Ski
Writers Association, an organization focused on promoting the highest
standards of snow sports journalism.