The new terrain park at Murray Ridge was open for business on the weekend, and skiers and boarders were head over heels, literally.
The park opened on Saturday, January 8, but the jump line was not open, due to the significant fresh snow during the week.
The jumps were too soft on Saturday, according to Joe Poznikoff, who’s in charge of the terrain park maintenance and design.
Poznikoff worked on the jumps and landings Saturday, and while he said the jumps were still a bit soft, they were ready enough to be opened on Sunday for their first runs.
“It’s pretty sweet,” said Tyler McQueen, who was enjoying the rails and boxes on Saturday with his friends.
Originally, the park was delayed due to insufficient snow coverage.
“Everything was turning to dirt,” said Poznikoff.
Poznikoff learned his park building skills from constantly riding the park at Big White for the past two years. He’s had about a month of working on the park at Murray Ridge to get it into shape, with what snow he had.
The park is currently at what Dan Goff, ski hill manager, calls Phase I. While Goff has been working on getting a park at the hill since he started, he credits Jason Barr with being a big force behind making it happen.
Barr did the dirt work on the park, according to Goff, with help from the community.
Local businesses also donated time and resources to make the park a reality. Canyon Tree Farms donated cat time and Dwain Russell donated machine time as well.
Wet weather hampered the completion of the park, and Goff said there is still some work to be done to finish the jump line to his satisfaction.
He would like to move the top two hits down and more jib material will be added as well. Poznikoff said he has up to six more items to place in the park for jibbers to play on.
Further phases of the park will depend on what funds the hill can allocate towards it , what community involvement Goff gets and what feedback users of the park give him.
The park now consists of a rail and box line on the skier’s left of the park and a jump line on the skier’s right.
Hiring Poznikoff was a requirement the hill created, to ensure the park is run safely and well-maintained. Goff hopes that older users of the park will learn what they need to about park use and maintenance and then mentor younger kids as they start using the park.
The park was well-recieved by skiers and boarders over the weekend, according to Poznikoff. “At the end of the day everyone said it was good.”
Goff also liked what he heard.
“They loved it,” he said. “I had lots of kids saying how awesome it was.”
In order to keep the park, there are some requirements the hill will have to maintain, for insurance and safety reasons.
Insurance requires the park only have one exit and one entrance, and appropriate signage needs to be posted.
Goff said the Ridge will be using the “Burton Smartstyle System” of signage, with liability signs at the entrance and individual jumps and stunts marked according to their size and difficulty.
Murray Ridge is also requiring all park users to be wearing helmets.
Poznikoff said there were some issues with users not yet following all the rules, and some were cutting across the T-bar line to access the park instead of crossing at tower four to go through the entrance and some people not wearing helmets.
“There’s just a few but it sucks when they do that,” said Poznikoff, who doesn’t like having to look like the bad buy.
But Goff is hopeful the park will continue indefinitely, as long as the users respect the rules and there are not any significant issues. He considers the park a draw in the region because there aren’t really any hills around with sizable parks.
There were no injuries in the park on the weekend either.
And while it was a slow start to the season for Murray Ridge, the recent snowfall had skiers and boarders out in high numbers.
“This is the busiest day we’ve had yet,” said Goff on Saturday.
Which is a big improvement over last year, which was financially a loss for the non-profit.
But there is almost twice as much snow on the hill now as there was at the same time last year.
It was a bit slow over the holidays, said Goff. He attributes it to the early holidays, and said that on Christmas Eve their numbers were good.
Post holidays, the hill continues to offer school programs for local schools to introduce them to skiing and snowboarding, and kids are required to take a one hour lesson. Once they’re done their lesson, the kids can head out onto the hill to explore, but the park and black diamond runs are closed.
Kids in grades 4 and 5 are eligible for the SnowPass Program which offers free lift passes to this age group, but can’t use them for the school trips.