For Jump-buildin’ Kids

In the last couple weeks we’ve had to knock down a few jumps being built by youngsters.  They always have such a hard time understanding what the big deal is–why we can’t allow kickers to be hidden willy-nilly in various places around the resort.  (From a safety standpoint, our concern is that people might smack into–or launch off of–’em unexpectedly, and that the kids doing the building lack the education & experience to engineer the approach, takeoff, and landing zones properly.)

So to show how complicated grown-ups can make something that seems so simple, below is an article from SAM Magazine (that’s Ski Area Management–the voice of the mountain resort industry) that just came out today.  Essentially, it suggests it’ll take ’em a decade just to figure out what they want to tell people.  But I guess that’s just the way the world works.



SAM Magazine—Denver, Jan. 25, 2012—The meeting of the terrain park task force of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F27 Snow Skiing Committee at the Denver Convention Center yesterday failed to produce the anticipated fireworks. There was general agreement that most of the variables in terrain park jumps are user-generated, and the session focused on outlining the group’s future steps. About 75 people attended the session, one of the largest F27 committee meetings in years.

During the open discussion portion of the meeting, a variety of attendees from the worlds of park building and academia all agreed that communication to and education of jumpers is a key issue. The aim of the task force for the immediate future is also education and communication—it seeks to catalog and collect existing research on jumping, to gauge the scientific knowledge base, and to disseminate that knowledge to task force and ASTM F27 Snow Skiing members before determining the eventual scope and form of the group’s work.

Professor James McNeil of the Colorado School of Mines helped defuse any potential conflict by noting that 90 percent of the variables involved in the outcomes for skiers and riders who use table top jumps come from the user, and perhaps 10 percent relates to other factors, such as the features’ design. Several park builders and other resort representatives echoed that, and emphasized the need to continue educating guests about risks, and to continue sharing best practices among resorts.

Jasper Shealy, the task force chairman, noted that the standards development process could well take many years. He recalled that the standard for Alpine bindings settings tables took more than 10 years to develop, and that the shop practices standard now used throughout the industry was 17 years in the making. At the end of that period, when the standard was finally adopted, most shops were already following it, he added.

Shealy also noted that the task force has added two resort representatives to its ranks, Sierra-at-Tahoe GM John Rice and Peak Resorts terrain park director Elia Hamilton, to broaden the range of experience in the group.

Steve Hanft, site risk/administrative manager for Snow Summit, Calif., noted that the outcome of the ASTM process might not even be a standard. Hanft, a longtime participant in ASTM standards process, described himself as a “pro-standard guy,” but he suggested the process might lead to a set of guidelines or best practices instead.

A spokesman from Burton noted that jumping is always going to be risky, and urged the task force to make signage and warnings a part of the deliberations, not just feature design. Elia Hamilton, parks manager across the Peak Resorts network of areas, suggested that eventually, awareness of the potential risks in parks, and in skiing and riding generally, could become so well known and accepted that it will no longer be necessary to create special warnings and signage for parks.

The range of ideas illustrated why Shealy said that one of the task group’s first steps will be to decide what the issues are. Then the group will determine what type of standard (or standards) to pursue: test methods, specifications, or practices? To that end, the very first goal is to collect research and other information about jumping in terrain parks, Shealy added. Understanding and defining the issues or problems will help narrow down the group’s focus.

And that is where the session ended. Shealy and F27.65 new projects chair Larry Young, whose committee is the organization home of the terrain park task force, invited all the attendees to submit ideas and help locate relevant research and studies. These will then be made available to members of ASTM and the task force members. Future meetings will then determine the group’s scope and identify areas in need of additional research and study. That process is likely to evolve through several generations of study and comment.

And that’s why this exploration could last for several years, or even a decade or longer. There’s no reason to expect a terrain park standard will emerge any faster.


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7 thoughts on “For Jump-buildin’ Kids

  1. Wildwildnw

    Perhaps if Crystal choose to have a very few small, well managed jumps in the Sasquatch terrain park, even just 2 or 3, young rippers wouldn’t be building them elsewhere.


  2. Anonymous

    Totally disagree.  And the SAM article didn’t really say anything !?!  

    I say let em build the booters!  This kind of over -safety attitude is exactly why kids stay inside and play video games.  Parents bust our butts to get them outside and when they start having fun outside they get their chops busted as soon as they start to adventure or do anything creative.  Read Richard Louv’s incredible book Last Child in the Woods and instead of destroying the kid’s booters I bet you’ll get out there and help build them!  It’s also kinda like Huck Finn, the widow tells him he can pray for anything, so he prays for a fishing line then the widow reprimands him for being a fool.  

    What contradictory messages we are sending these kids.  Should they adventure or not?

    As far as safety engineering the approach, takeoff, landing….LOL !!!!!!  In last weeks storm my kid was building booters off of sidewalk birms here in Bonney Lake, with asphalt landings and cars all around, and a whopping 6″ base, and having a total blast.   C’mon!  

    Your perspective is so PNW plush where you have so little to truly worry about that you start going after kids building booters.  Go on a roadtrip somewhere besides Revelstoke or Jackson and you’ll see many places have a little bit different perspective.  Ski somewhere like So Cal where I grew up and you don’t have all this great snow and terrain so booters and tables are all you’ve got.  You’d probably faint if you saw the size of tables Snow Valley built in the midst of white stripes of death with rock gardens on either side.  I lost so many teeth skiing down there its not funny, but I sure am thankful Snow Valley’s management didn’t share your perspective on this matter or I might not be nearly as passionate about skiing as I am today.   

    Do you have kids?  

    Maybe some of this energy should be channeled away from the children and toward something more useful like improving the parking lots.  If you’re concerned about safety or children, the parkings lots should be your real concern.   


    1. Corey

      Are you saying you’re down with your child sledding in traffic and getting their teeth knocked out like you did?  Cuz I’m thinkin’ you might want to keep that on the down-low in terms of their Mom.  I’m just sayin’.

      Knocking down “unauthorized” jumps is pretty standard work for ski patrollers in the industry.  Less-so Parking Lot improvements, though I guess we’d do whatever the boss asks.


  3. Josh

    IMO it’s all more about the potential lawsuit vs skier safety.  I mean a small kicker tucked in a hidden clearing in the trees is small potatoes compared to catching an edge at the wrong time coming down the north face of the King or riding glorious deep pow pow through the trees.    


  4. The One

    Maybe Crystal should stop half @$$ing the terrain park which just has rails and boxes and build a few kickers there…or you can stay in the shadow of real ski resorts in the world who do offer it (Whistler, Brek, Vail, etc…)


  5. Boys will be Boys

    Thanks Crystal, does this mean you’re finally coming around to realize that Stevens Pass and even, dare I say it, Snoqualmie Pass have both been totally outdoing you in the terrain park arena for years now? The jib park is a joke, and if it takes watching a mandatory safety video such as Stevens requires before you enter the jump park then that’s a small price to pay to let people do what they want (and are going to do anyway) but on your terms. It’s like my mother always said – “Boys will be Boys”. The problem will not go away, so why not take it into your own hands and provide a workable solution, think about it.


  6. I agree that terrain park standards would be difficult to create because there are a lot of variables ranging from mean skill level of ski resort customers (which certainly varies in different places around the US) to local laws/ordinances and various legal interpretations. 

    That said, I do think that “best practices” could be adopted to create consistency. I have seen terrain parks where the take-offs are so short and flat yet the landings are so long and steep and long that I’m tempted to increase speed to over-compensate for a decrease in height in order to create more “air time” – this gets dangerous with spinning maneuvers (not recommended at all for inverts, of course) as the lower air heights combined with increased speed increases the likelihood of catching an edge while trying to finish off a nine-hundred – for example. I gather that certain ski resorts create terrain park jumps with very flat take-offs in order to discourage inverts – but it seems to me that it would only make it more likely that somebody would suffer a more severe injury if an invert or difficult spin attempt were to go wrong on such a jump.

    Then you have terrain parks on the flip side of the coin – like at Big Sky (at least the year I was there) that build such incredibly large take-offs and landings that nobody would even think to attempt to jump unless they were of adequate skill level. Furthermore, I am going to assume that the skiers and riders who are of high enough skill to hit the bigger jumps at Big Sky might be less likely to sue the resort should they get hurt (I’m going to cite “playground rules” here!). They are also less likely to get hurt because they are more likely to be trained how to minimize injury during falls. 

    Like Big Sky, Crystal has many, many extremely talented locals who would have no problem handling giant kickers, gaps and tables – and who I would argue deserve to have access to such facilities. Unlike Big Sky, however, Crystal also has a much larger population of customers who are not as fit for big mountain winter conditions.  It can be hard to get some customers to take a lesson when needed – let alone use safe practices in a terrain park. In this way Crystal will have to be a leader in the industry in order to adopt practices that can please the well-deserving “hardcore” skiers and riders while keeping the larger, less-dedicated population safe on the mountain too. 

    When and if Crystal is able to do this – I assume that general “best practices” will be followed – such as creating adequate steepness in both take-offs and landings for the bigger jumps while also providing gentle smaller jumps that get progressively larger and steeper in a different area. I’m sure the industry “experts” could add to this initial list of best practices.


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