By: Brad McNally
For many snowboarders the terrain park is the place to be when you are out on the mountain. If you’ve been in it, you likely know exactly why. If you’ve never been through it, it might seem intimidating or even just plain scary. Knowing what you are getting into is important, but so is knowing how to behave when you are there as well. There are unspoken rules in every sport, but it generally boils down to some basic things. Here are some tips to help you stay on the good side of those you are sharing the park with.
- Learn before you go
Most resorts offer information about the trails they have available online. Check out the trails before you get there. The more you know about it before you get there, the better off you will be. Once you get to the resort, instead of just dropping into a line, take some time to observe the park. This may require a short walk from the top of the lift to where the terrain park is, so you can ride your board over there or, if you’re going to walk, bring something to make the walk a little more comfortable, like a snowboard carry strap. While you are observing, just consider what line you would use but also where problems may arise.
- Start small
If you’ve never been on a bigger jump, that is okay. Everyone has had a first time, so don’t feel bad about that. If you aren’t ready for an XL jump, head to some smaller stuff. Build your way up to the bigger things, but it is better to jump off of what you know than to throw yourself at something that you aren’t ready for.
- Speak up
If you are new to terrain parks, this is might take some getting used to. If you are ready to drop in, call out that you are dropping in next. If someone has already called it, wait your turn because it’s not right to cut in. If you fall, yell out and let those uphill know so they don’t drop in and end up running into you. This is for your safety, but also it helps everyone keep track of what is going on. Plus, the more you interact with those already in the park, the more you can learn from them.
- Know your limits
Don’t hurt yourself. Understand that there is nothing wrong with taking a risk on a bigger jump than you’ve done in the past, but just like mentioned earlier, build up to it. This one is also more about safety than anything else, but someone that goes beyond their limits ends up falling a lot. Not only is it unsafe, but every rider will become annoyed with someone falling over and over while also hitting the wrong part of the ramp. First, you are in their way, but second, you might be tearing up the line.
- Above all else - try not to be a jerk
Be respectful to those that are already there, and try not to be a jerk. You’ll see boarders that cut in front of others when they are heading into their line, loiter in front of specific jumps instead of taking a full run, or cause any other kind of issue, but do your best to be better than that. Reasonable people will understand that you’re learning, so if you communicate well and try your best, it will work out fine.
Many parks have added signage and programs to help those that are new to the terrain park learn about it. One of those programs is the ParkSmart program. The golden rule kind of applies here, so show respect to the other riders and just do your best. The terrain park can be one of the most enjoyable features on the mountain. Learning proper etiquette in it can help you enjoy it even more.