You ski or snowboard at a resort for one reason or another. You like the terrain, perhaps it’s the atmosphere or the nightlife. All these things make up the attitude of a resort or ski area. Since many times there is an age gap between general resort goers and those spending their time in the terrain park, I often wondered if that attitude carries over from resort to park, or if it’s the exact opposite.
On a recent trip to Shanty Creek for their annual Beer Boards & Microbrew Festival, I couldn’t help but get sidetracked to test this theory. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t in my favor. Snow turned to rain, then snow, then rain… you get the picture. Having knowledge of Shanty’s Monster Energy Park, I was pretty anxious for the weather to break so I could drag my camera out to see what the park flow looked like and the talent that was dropping in.
Stashing soaked gear in my rig with the heat cranked, I ducked under the demo tent of Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis for a bit of cover. While catching up with Jeff and John from Shaggy’s I was introduced to a couple of young guns who were trying out Shaggy’s park ski, the Betsy. When asked about the park, they seemed pretty pumped on what had been created and it was my understanding that the features had all just been reset and it was prime.
Finally, a break in the weather. With dry gear on and camera in tow, I caught up with my new friends in the lift line. After a brief Q&A session with other patrons on my waterski sized pow boards (yes, I can turn these things on groomers!) we caught a chair on the yellow lift and headed toward the Monster Park.
The Monster Energy Park is located on Schuss Mountain and primarily resides under the Purple Daze lift. To your right there is a decent jump line that drops down and circles back toward the bottom of Purple Daze, with the majority of the rails and features under the lift. Rolling into the park I instantly look out-of-place. Tech gear, pow skis and a backpack chocked full of camera shenanigans. No worries though, my new park friends make me feel right at home giving me the lay of the land offering up suggestions for features to camp out by.
I settle in near the large double-c rail. Young skiers and riders drop in one-by-one with more courtesy than most adults at a 4-way stop. Riders come and go in waves. Groups of skiers, then snowboarders and a mix of both, all with a vibe that can be best summed up as mellow. From feature to feature I notice a few things. There are no attitudes here, just the acknowledgement of solid tricks, high-fives, smiles and the occasional… “dude are you alright?”
The park has a unique flow to it, giving riders of all ages and levels the ability to throw down and progress. I continue to meet more riders and learn where they’re from. Metro Detroit, Spring Lake, Grand Rapids, Bellaire, Traverse City, the list goes on and they’re all friends at some level – hell they even make me feel at home. It’s like a neighborhood within a city. The park has its own attitude, its own vibe, much different than the resort itself.
About the time the street lights came on, it was time for me to roll. Today I discovered the sub-culture that is park, and while it might not be my scene in particular, I have deep respect for these kids throwing down and pushing the sport further.
If you’ve ever wondered what happened to ski culture in the midwest, I found it and encourage you to take a ride up Purple Daze, or any lift for that matter. Watch and learn.