as one trick leads to another. Eventually, the team migrates over to the jumps, where a steep and fast approach delivers you into one of three kickers: the easy roller that I was attempting to jump earlier in the day, a three-foot kicker that the eight-year-old spent the day mastering, and the six-foot kicker that will launch you 25 feet into the air. Most of the team launches off of the three-footer, but a few skiers and boarders can hit the six-footer with style.
I’m feeling a little defeated until I happen to see one of the boarders eat it hard while trying to tackle a kinked rail. He gets up, approaches the rail, and falls hard again. But he gets back up yet again. And if you took a ruler to the rail, you might notice that he made it a little farther along the feature the second time. It might just be a difference of six inches, but it’s progress. And in that six inches lies my hope. Even though I’m slightly too old to hang with the freeride kids, and even though I’m nursing a recently dislocated shoulder, there’s a slight chance that someday I’ll be able to style that Dora the Explorer box.
See an exclusive video of Eric Hegreness giving freeride lessons at Liberty’s Snowflex Center.
BEST BEGINNER PARKS
Check out these resorts with beginner-friendly terrain parks.
Wisp Resort, Md.
Wisp has the first Burton Learn to Ride Center below the Mason Dixon. The Center has beginner-friendly equipment, certified instructors, and a specially designed progression park with scaled-down features, slower speeds, and signage with trick tips before each feature.
wispresort.com, or check out Base Camp for more information http://basecamp.blueridgeoutdoors.com/?p=2562
Silver Creek Area, W.Va.
Intrawest has added a new beginner park area to Robertson’s Run at Silver Creek (Snowshoe Mountain’s sister property) with ground-level features, tiny rollers, and fun banks of snow. Check into Snowshoe’s comprehensive beginner terrain park lessons as well.
The French Swiss Ski College runs the beginner freeride programs at Appalachian Ski Mountain’s official Burton Learn to Ride Center. Just like the progressive park at Wisp, App’s program and terrain park are designed to progress new freeskiers and boarders safely and quickly through their first terrain park experiences.