Tips for Safely Exploring the Terrain Park
If you’ve always wanted to take a break from groomers to hit the terrain park while skiing or boarding, we say go for it! But while hitting a jump in the park might be fun, (and make you look really cool) it’s not worth sacrificing your safety or the safety of the riders and skiers around you. Turning a bluebird day into a bummer of a day can be avoided if you Park Smart! Here are some tips for safely exploring the terrain park at your favorite resort.
Follow the Rules
Some say “rules are made to be broken” but for the safety of yourself and those around you, that mantra does not ring true in the terrain park! Ski areas participate in a safety initiative for terrain parks called Park Smart that provides guidelines for how to safely enjoy the terrain parks. The acronym stands for:
- Start Small: Work your way up & build your skills.
- Make a Plan for every feature you plan to use, every time.
- Always Look before you drop.
- Respect the features & other users.
- Take It Easy and know your limits so you land on your feet.
You don’t have to hit the biggest jump or try your dream trick your first time in the park- in fact, we discourage that! Master a skill on a smaller jump or feature before moving on to larger features. Many ski resorts will offer terrain parks for various levels to help guide you, and will classify terrain parks like one would a t-shirt size, from S (beginner, small features) to L (expert, large features). If you’re unsure of the label on a terrain mark, refer to the map key. Start with the smallest and don’t move on until you build confidence.
Make a Plan
Watching others go off jumps/ features is a good indication of how much speed you need, where you will land, and if the conditions that day alter the features at all. It’s always good to scout out a feature before you hit it. Also remember, your speed, approach and take-off will directly affect your maneuver and landing, so have a plan for all three. When first inspecting the jumps consider the following elements of each jump:
(A) The Approach Zone is for setting your speed & stance
(T) The Take-off Zone is for making moves that start your trick
(M) The maneuver zone is for controlling your style
(L) The Landing Zone is for getting straight and riding away clean.
Crowded terrain parks can spell danger if you aren’t careful. Awareness= safety. Before you drop, look up the hill to make sure no one is dropping in above you and if there are other riders/skiers around, call out that you are dropping in. Be a bro- let others know. If you notice someone has crashed, give people farther up the slope a heads up as they may not see what you see. Remember to never cross over a feature and recognize if you’re in a place where you can’t be seen from above, so you don’t end up being someone else’s landing pad. The downhill skier or rider has the right-of-way in the park. Hence, it’s the uphill skier’s responsibility to always look before dropping to ensure the safety of those below you.
It’s important to respect both your fellow park-goers and the features in the park to ensure everyone has a blast. It is one person on a feature at a time so make sure to be clear when you are dropping in and don’t cut anyone off. Wait your turn and call your drop-in. Then, just like when getting off the lift, make sure to clear the landing area quickly. Remember to respect all signs and stay off closed features. That closed jump may look SICK, but it’s closed for a reason. Trust the terrain park crew knows what they’re talking about and are there to ensure your safety!
Take it Easy
Don’t be a showoff. Ride within your ability and don’t try anything too crazy within the terrain park until you are ready. If you do want to build your skill and add more tricks to your bag, consider a lesson to teach you the essentials of park riding. Make sure to always stay in control, remembering that how big or small you take the feature depends largely on your speed.
Following these guidelines when you first hit the terrain park will help ensure everyone has an awesome day on the slopes. If you’re renting ski or snowboard gear from Christy Sports and have questions about the park, ask our staff! You’re bound to find a couple park-goers on our team who can give you some tips and may even know the ins and outs of the terrain parks at the resort or ski area you plan to visit.