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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?

New 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 Snowboards.

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 etiquette.

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 website.

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 adds.


Andrew 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.


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