Mad River Glen’s New Terrain Parks

Browsing Facebook a few weeks ago, I came across a photo posted by Mad River Glen. The image, of the loading area of the Sunnyside Double chair, bore the caption “Notice anything new?” I didn’t. Then I saw the sign: “This lift services terrain park features.”

Building the Mad River Glen Terrain Park.

I admit I was a bit surprised that one of the Northeast’s most prized natural playgrounds would be adding man-made features, considering the old-school atmosphere associated with Mad River. I spoke with Eric Friedman, Director of Marketing and Shareholder Relations, to find out more about the new park setup.

The Mad River Glen Freestyle Team, made up of some of Vermont’s best young rippers, was instrumental in getting the park off the ground. Coaches and team members have had this on their wish lists for years. Ry Young, the head coach, spearheaded the project, putting in time and effort to make his team’s wish into reality.

terrain park rails

There will be two distinct park areas on the mountain. “Lark Park” will be made up of all natural features located on the novice trail Lark. Its wooden rails and boxes will be accessible via the Sunnyside Double. Those who wish to lap the park will also have the option of the Birdland double, which services Mad River’s novice area on weekends and holidays. The second park area, aptly named “DL” for “Down Low” will be close to the base area. Located at the bottom of the last bend of Rockefeller’s, or just after the runout of Lower Antelope, it will contain four or five fabricated metal features.

Mad River Glen operates almost entirely on natural snow, and the terrain parks will be no exception. The mountain only has a few guns, and according to Friedman, snowmaking just isn’t the way they roll. “We rely on the heavens, not the hoses.” It’ll be interesting to see how the grooming team handles the task of maintaining high-traffic approaches and runouts of park features using only what Mother Nature provides.

Terrain Park construction crew.

Those who might worry about a terrain park defacing the robust glory of the mountain need not fear. Friedman reassured me that the setup will not interrupt the classic, laid-back atmosphere. In fact, due to the location of the parks, most skiers won’t even notice their existence. The main goal in adding the features is not to attract a new group of skiers, but to increase Mad River’s value for its already die-hard fan base. Lark Park and the DL are designed to keep the next generation of skiers diggin’ Mad River Glen.

5 comments on “Mad River Glen’s New Terrain Parks

  1. 99% of skiers will definitely never see the Lark Park. Lark is a perfect location for the park. Lark might be the one trail at MRG that I’ve skied the least. I dig the wooden features, that works. I didn’t know about the DL features, that will definitely be much more visible.

  2. “We rely on the heavens, not the hoses.”

    Looks they’re getting hosed by the Heavens this year. har har.

  3. As a veteran MRG skier from the 70s and 80s, this is great news to hear. This shows the resurgence of skiing, thanks to the arrival of “freeskiing” and twin tip skis. 15 years ago, skiing was in danger of becoming an old person’s sport, like shuffleboard, as most young people were turning to snowboarding. Skiing? On 2 boards? That was like Dad’s Oldsmobile. I am now amazed at the number of skiers in their teens and 20s who have turned in their snowboards in favor of twin tips, that let you do all the terrain park features, ski backwards, but also ski the mountain.

    MRG could conceivably become a “free ski” capital if the young crowd finds this. Unfortunately, they are going to need a good amount of natural to keep those features open. MRG works with all natural because of light skier traffic. If it had Sugarbush-type crowds, that natural would never hold up. Keeping a terrain park open will take a lot of upkeep without snowmaking!

  4. I admire MRG’s initiative to try to attract a new clientele. That said, I remember a few years ago, Alta built a terrain park that didn’t get used very much. They posted on their website that they were discontinuing it because “people preferred to use our natural terrain features rather than manmade ones.” Assuming they get enough natural snow to keep the park going, I wonder if MRGers will give it the same reception.

  5. I was at Mad River this weekend and have a quick update. The DL park has been moved to the top section of the Practice Slope lift line. It’s further out of the way there and is easier to lap on the Practice Slope lift. I saw quite a few people skiing the DL features. Eric and Ryan are both extremely satisfied with the role the park has already played in keeping the next generation of skiers stoked on MRG.

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