A snow park, also called a terrain/freestyle park, is an area of the mountain dedicated to freestyle skiing and snowboarding. 

Safety

A lot of it comes down to common sense and respecting the other riders around you but there are some general tips to bear in mind.

If you’re new to the snow park, it’s a good idea to start out on the smaller, beginner features. Most resorts build beginner-friendly features, often marked with colours or signs for difficulty, and some resorts even offer dedicated beginner snow parks.

As your skills and confidence grow, remember to still ride within your ability level and know your limits. If you want to ramp it up a notch then you could look into freestyle courses either in resort or at UK real snow and dry slopes.

Just like the piste, the snow park can be affected by changing snow conditions, usage levels and grooming. If you see that a feature, or even the whole snowpack, is out of bounds, it’s advisable to respect the warning.

Make sure you assess a feature as well as its landing zone before you approach it or “drop in” so that you’re familiar with what you’re attempting. This may mean riding through the snow park to scope out the terrain first or using your first run as a warm up.

Once you’re ready to have a go, check the feature and its landing area are clear and alert other riders (raising your hand is a common gesture) before you drop in. Maintain control as you carry out your trick and then quickly clear the landing area for other riders.

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.

Aerial

Aerialists ski off 2 to 4 meter jumps, that propel them up to 6 meters in the air (which can be up to 20 meters above the landing height, given the landing slope). Once in the air, aerialists perform multiple flips and twists before landing on an inclined landing hill. 

Kickers

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.

ANGEL RODRIGUEZ. ANRODPHOTO

Rollers

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.

Half Pipe
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.

Super 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.

Quarter Pipe
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.

Features
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
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
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.

Table tops

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
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.

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