Terrain-park chief keeps mountains jumping (video) | AspenTimes.com

Terrain-park chief keeps mountains jumping (video)

Andre Gandom of Portugal splins a 360 off a jump in the Buttermilk park Thursday afternoon.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

In a time before terrain parks, a young Greg Boyd used to get in trouble for building jumps in the trees at his hometown resort in central Canada.

Today, Boyd gets paid to build jumps and manage a combined total of more than 150 acres of park terrain as Aspen Skiing Co.’s terrain park operations manager for 14 years.

“Parks were something we used to dream of,” Boyd said. “Now, they’re still pretty dreamy, but also a reality.”

Through his role with Skico, Boyd oversees both Buttermilk and Snowmass mountains’ terrain parks and manages Buttermilk’s two parks directly, while Snowmass terrain-park manager Yannick Rioux takes care of Snowmass’ three parks.

“Ever since I was little, I was obsessed with ambidextrous riders – those that could do the same trick regular and switch, backside and frontside.” — local terrain park rider Rob Hollis

Together, the two have 40 years of experience working in terrain parks.

Like Boyd, many parkies say their love of the park began at an early age.

“I started going to the parks when I was little to watch the older kids hit the jumps, and I remember being fascinated by the size and scale of the jumps and the tricks that they would do,” local Rob Hollis said. “Ever since I was little, I was obsessed with ambidextrous riders — those that could do the same trick regular and switch, backside and frontside.”

Today, Hollis said his favorite tricks to perform in the park are “the simple ones” — aka a back 180 stalefish, a switchback 180 shifty indy grab and a huge inverted shifty 360 melon off the third.

Hollis, who’s visited parks at more than a dozen resorts across the state, said he thinks the local parks are friendlier than at most other resorts.

“In your average terrain park, the vibe is very aggressive — it’s all about going big and doing the best tricks,” Hollis said. “But because all the freestylers are in the same area together, we really feed off one another and it’s a naturally competitive area of the mountain.”

Mark Noonan, who also hits the park regularly, agreed with Hollis.

“Aspen-Snowmass hands down has the best park vibe I have experienced,” Noonan said. “Everybody is so friendly and encouraging and always cheering each other on.”

While the local vibe may be laid back, the amount of work that goes into the parks is anything but mellow.

In fact, from the start of the season until the end, there isn’t a second the park isn’t being maintained.

About 20 people each work 10-hour shifts, from 7:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., at the park each day. Another crew grooms the pipe and some of the larger jumps from 2 to 10 p.m., and another grooming crew comes in from midnight until 10 a.m.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling of going off big jumps and being in the air,” professional skier and Snowmass native Tae Wescott said. “You just have to experience it for yourself.”


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