The Snow Park
Every snow park has a different variety of features but some, such as kickers and rails, are pretty commonplace. Features offer a platform for performing different tricks or combinations of tricks and this is where the snow park really comes into its own, offering a different sort of riding experience than you will find on the piste or in the powder.
Kickers range in size and difficulty, from small jumps to larger snow ramps that launch you into the air in order to do aerial tricks. The landing zone is lower than the take-off which allows you to safely complete a trick.
Rollers are a good stepping stone towards kickers, pipes, walls and spine ramps. Often found directly next to a kicker, a roller is an undulation in the terrain. If you jump at the righ tmoment, it is possible to get enough air to perform tricks. They are an integral part of ski and snowboard cross courses.
The staple in the pipe family. The half pipe lets you do a series of tricks in one run off the top or “lip” of the walls on each side, with the transition areas between allowing you to maintain momentum down the length of the pipe.
The super pipe is the half pipe’s big brother and, as the name suggests, everything including the height of the walls, length of the transitions and length of the pipe itself is larger. Super pipes are a popular choice at pro events such as the Winter X Games.
The quarter pipe is a cross between a kicker and the halfpipe. Consisting of one shorter side of a halfpipe, there is one transition to the lip of the wall but instead of clearing the feature (as on a kicker), you land back on the same transition you took off from.
Whilst kickers, pipes, walls and spine ramps encourage aerial tricks, purpose-built rails and boxes, usually constructed out of wood, metal, or plastic, are more about balance, style and control as you ride over them.
Rails vary from the conventional straight flat type to everything from s-shapes and rainbows to downwards, kinked features – every snow park will offer something different. Their construction will also be different, ranging from a single barrel or flat bar to a double or triple barrel.
Boxes refer to any box-shaped object that snowboarders and skiers can jump over or slide across. Because of their width, they can be good to practice on before moving on to the more technically demanding rails.
A table top owes some of its being to a kicker but unlike its relative, the ramp leads you to a flat deck area – the table top – which you jump over to reach an equal and opposite landing zone on the other side of the feature.
Walls are also related to the quarter pipe but, as they are constructed from materials like wood, the style of riding is different. This can range from stalling or sliding on the top edge, to planting on the main body of the wall.