Monday, March 3, 2014

Mountain Mechanics Slides into Project Week! First Stop: Loon Mt.

“Today we pushed our boundaries on the mountain physically and mentally. Some of us haven't skied or boarded in a while. It was nice to get back on the slopes and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the White Mountains. Everyone had a strong day hitting the black diamonds and shredding through the terrain park. We met Brian Norton, who specializes in making rails and boxes for the terrain park. He described his job and told us what it took to build the park. After asking some questions we took off down the hill to conduct interviews of people who work in the park and resort. After that was complete, we had the rest of the day to enjoy the slopes. Nobody got hurt, but I lost my skis at the top of the summit and slid down the entire trial on my stomach and got a free ride by the ski patrol. All in all, today was a total success and we can't wait to get up and head to Cannon in the morning.”

-Howie H.

This morning we met with Brian Norton, the terrain park manager at Loon Mtn. and rode through the park with him. He explained to us the various sponsors that work with Loon Mountain, such as Volcom, Oakley, Neff, ThirtyTwo, Red Bull, and Burton. In the snowboard business it is really all about who you know and the relationships you foster. 

Bottom of the super pipe
Brian showed us the various tools they use in their park, such as root shovels (great for busting up ice), grinders, chainsaws, lasers/levels, paint, metal tubing, and Plexiglas. He also discussed how they have to drag these features up the mountain with a snow-cat and sometimes have to take roundabout paths because the rails are so big. Did you know that a snow-cat can cost up to $500,000? So that’s where the day ticket money is going!

Brian Norton, Terrain Park Manager at Loon
You know those warning signs that nobody stops to read at the top of the parks? This feature next to Brian will be a warning sign that can also be ridden as a rail or wall-ride! Safety is cool!

Who doesn't love some swag?
Thanks Brian for the Loon hats!
It’s not as simple as sticking a rail into the ground. The park works with the sponsor to decide on what kind of feature they want to put their name on, how it will be painted, and where it should be located. Many features are built specifically for certain contests throughout the year. The snow-cats bring them up, and a crew of five or six guys digs them into the snow. The rails are checked daily for safety inspections, and raked at least twice throughout the day. 

Outside on the workshop deck, Loon Mtn. Park 

Our crew learned about all the hard work that goes into a top-notch park and now has a little more appreciation during their park laps. Group members also conducted personal interviews with various mountain employees throughout the day in order to better understand how the mountain functions and the various roles involved in a ski resort.

Mt. Washington peaking out in the distance
from the gondola.

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