The cool winter breeze is quickly taking over Alaska, which can only mean one thing — snow is on the way. For some, this means dreadfully shoveling the driveway. For others, it means shredding the fresh powder on your skis and snowboard.
With the temperatures dropping and high precipitation, this season is looking exponentially well for all the extreme sports enthusiast out there. If the weather keeps up, Hilltop Ski Area is hoping to open up in time for Thanksgiving weekend. This season, Hilltop is excited to present three new additions to their terrain park.
Having new additions to the park each year is an important factor for a variety of reasons. Shannon Evans, mountain operations and park crew at Hilltop, has been behind the scenes planning these new park features.
“We are trying to add as many features as we can to keep the kids interested in riding,” Evans said. “Variety and creativity are things that we bring to the park, whether it’s combining several culvert pipes or mixing up the order or location of certain rails.”
Hilltop is adding a park style picnic table with a top sheet made of polyethylene and metal edges, which will allow for smoother grinds with a snowboard or skis. The second addition will be a 20-foot mailbox; the shape is a cylindrical tube with flat sides made up of steel. The last addition is a flat box with a polyethylene top. Evans also mentions the four new park features added last year, which consist of two flat boxes, a mailbox and a round rail.
Bethlehem Hansen, the park crew manager, expresses her excitement on the new additions to the terrain park.
“We’ve been pushing for a picnic table since the dawn of time and I’m so tickled to hear our dreams have come true,” Hansen said. “Right now, we’ve got an 8-foot mailbox and it’s so versatile already, I can’t really imagine what we can do with a 20-foot version.”
For beginner or intermediate skiers or snowboarders, don’t let these new features scare you. There is a diverse range of items in the park for different abilities.
“We have a large rail variety for all skill levels, we set features up to be ride-ons, street style [ollie on], or gap-ons so that riders can get every sense of hitting a feature. We also have lots of beginner and intermediate boxes, culverts and barrels,” Evans said.
Before going to the terrain park, it is important to learn the basics of snowboarding and skiing before attempting something a bit more extreme.
“We recommend that everyone be skilled enough to ride on the rest of the hill before they enter the park. It’s always a good idea to start small and work your way up, starting within your abilities and then progressing gradually to more difficult features,” Evans said.
The three main ski runs that makes up Hilltop are Caribou (skiers left), Moose (center) and Ptarmigan (skiers right). There are a few cutover runs that connect them. The terrain park is located on the Moose run in the center of the ski area.
Hilltop is the perfect place for beginners to learn and advanced ski and snowboarders to practice without leaving town. These new features will keep the park exciting for snowboarders like Caleb Kinnear, part of Hilltop’s park crew and Blue&Gold team. Kinnear encourages others to learn the sport.
“If there a good park then there’s always going to be more kids who are wanting to get down there and learn how to snowboard and start doing tricks,” Kinnear said.
It is easy to get bored of the same terrain park features every year. Hilltop is aware of this concern and caters to the best of their abilities to change up the park as often as they can.
“The further we can stretch boundaries and get creative with the features, the more light we can shed on how wonderful this place is,” Hansen said.
Many riders look forward to progressing in the terrain park each year. Hilltop urges as many ski and snowboarders to come check out the park and most importantly have fun.
“I just want people reading this to know that Hilltop is a great place to learn and progress their park skills. We want to see the park crowded with kids hiking the park, learning their tricks and having fun with friends,” Evans said.
The snowfall predictions are making many hopeful for this season of riding. These three new features at Hilltop add to the excitement for this winter and increase the variety of obstacles for ski and snowboarders. This is the perfect place for park rats who don’t want to leave town, progress on a range of diverse obstacles, and most importantly, shred their hearts out.