To Build a Park

To Build a Park

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Gallagher, Liam
Late last April, Big Sky was blessed with some of the best snow of the season. Trouble was, the resort had closed a week prior and there was no one around to enjoy it—well, nearly no one.

Meet Big Sky’s terrain park crew: Pope, Jake, Junior, Jed, Noah, and me, Liam.

We’d waited all season for this snow, and couldn’t stand to see it settle and eventually run off unslashed. Something had to be done; there were piles to push, jumps to build, and by God (or rather, Ullr) we’d do whatever it took to make a few more molehills out of the mountain of snow that now sat before us.

It was our duty and desire, even if we were no longer on the clock. It was what we’d done day in and day out since early November and now, with more workable material than we’d seen all season, we weren’t about to hang up our boots.

Although a bit lackluster in terms of snowfall, last winter saw substantial improvements in Big Sky’s terrain parks. With three cat operators and three diggers, we were the largest park crew ever employed by the resort. And with an expanded park on Ambush and the addition of a beginner park under Swiftcurrent, we regularly put in 50-60 hours a week, and even clocked a couple 80-hour workweeks.

But the resort’s higher-ups were behind us. Apparently pleased with the improvements in the park, upper management encouraged us to keep up the good work, even if it meant paying out time-and-a-half, time and time again.

And then, in a move that surprised even us park rats, mountain manager Kevin Shank signed a $90,000 check for the purchase of a Zaugg half-pipe cutter, making our Super Pipe dreams a reality. In a few weeks’ time, any remaining doubts about Big Sky’s commitment to the terrain park were laid to rest below 18 feet of perfectly-cut tyranny. Come closing day we had more than 40 features between the two parks.

Then it started to snow, and kept snowing and in a couple days time we were looking at more base than we’d seen all season. So we asked Shank for a few more days to build up a couple jumps, and, after some pleading, much planning, and a last-minute insurance purchase, we were given the green light to invite some of the state’s best shreds, filmers, and a few friends for a day of fun on super-sized features.

After four days of digging and more than100 hours of cat time, we’d built a 60-foot jump, an 18-foot quarter pipe with a rail along the lip, and set up a half-dozen rails and fun boxes. There was also a 120-foot cat track gap constructed for a few possessed snow-machiners, Junior being one of them.

For a day we had free reign in the park we’d spent all winter building. The clouds even parted for a couple hours, providing enough light for a few photos and some filming. The day turned out better than we’d hoped and seemed a fitting finale to a season that repeatedly exceeded all of our expectations. Next winter couldn’t come soon enough.

Look for even more improvements in Big Sky’s terrain parks for the 2005-06 season. With a doubled staff, Liam and crew plan to install new boxes and rails, a sound system, and possibly a third, intermediate-level terrain park. Call 995-5000 for more information.

2005 Ski Film Round-Up

TeddyBear Crisis
TeddyBear Crisis

Kris Ostness (Wind-up Films) and Henrik Rostrup (Not Another Ski Movie) team up to produce the best flick of the year with enormous backcountry features, sweet camera angles, an eclectic indie soundtrack, and insane talent ranging from Tanner Hall to a heavy influence of Scandinavian skiers.

Poorboyz Productions

Poorboyz returns with a new crop of young talent and a few legends like J.P. Auclair and Candide Thovex throwing it down in the park and urban settings. War also includes quality big-mountain segments by Poorboyz newcomer Seth Morrison and Pep Fujas.

The Hit List
Matchstick Productions

The Hit List comes with two DVDs: the regular version and a bonus “remix” version edited by the skiers. Once again, Matchstick’s cinematography is top-notch with shots from helicopters buzzing over terrain park hits. Performances by Eric Hjorleifson and Mark Abma and the non-sound-byte “remix” version make Hit List a great purchase.

The Tangerine Dream
Teton Gravity Research

The rusty, orange truck that has accompanied TGR the last 10 years acts as the title of this big-mountain heavy film. Notable performers include TGR newcomer Dana Flahr, Marc-Andre Belliveau, Victoria Jealouse, Micah Black, the Olenick Brothers, and former MSU student Dylan Hood. Check out the Pyramid gap session and the Candide Invitational for sweet freestyle-oriented segments.

The Waiting Game
Wink Inc. Productions

Follow this super-skilled big-mountain crew from Utah to Tahoe to Alaska to Jackson, among many places, in the first ever High Definition ski movie. Former TGR producers Arden Oksanen, Trask McFarland, and Jon “JK” Klaczkiewicz partner up to make a soulful film documenting the ski season from seasoned pros like Kent Kreitler to weathered Jackson ski bums.

Echo, Team 13
Team 13

Bozeman’s Team 13 makes this film a worthy selection for fans of challenging big-mountain descents, extreme legend Brant Moles, and big backcountry lines in unknown places.

-John Stifter
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