Face lift sets Boreal apart
TRUCKEE – From pioneer Tom Burt on the North Shore to six-time Winter X Games gold medalist Shaun Palmer on the South Shore, from a deep winter snowpack to 300 days of sunshine annually, Lake Tahoe has long been considered a snowboarding mecca.
Boreal Mountain Resort will strengthen that distinction this winter when it joins Big Bear in Southern California and Snowpark in New Zealand as the world’s only all-mountain terrain parks.
Boreal’s transformation will not only include a 450-foot in-ground superpipe, dozens of kickers and 100 rails and boxes, but should inject some new life into the resort.
“Boreal really needed this,” said Truckee pro rider Robbie Sell, who learned to snowboard at Boreal. “The past two years, Boreal has kind of lost its attractiveness. But when I heard Eric (Rosenwald) was going to be involved, I knew things would turn around. It’s going to help its reputation locally and probably even globally.”
Locals can get an up-close look at some of the improvements on Saturday at the inaugural Jibassic Pro Rail Invitational and Film Premier. Twenty of the region’s top skiers and riders will compete for $6,000 in prize money on custom-made rails outside the main lodge, a competition preceded by the premiere of two highly anticipated films.
Dave Benedek’s “91 Words For Snow” will start at 7:30 p.m., Plenhouse Film’s “White Shine” at 8:30 p.m and the rail competition afterwards. The resort is paying for shaved ice to be shipped in from Reno and hopes Saturday is just the beginning of its resurrection.
A touch of greatness
This summer, Eric Rosenwald, a world-renowned terrain park designer, was given the opportunity of a lifetime. Utah-based POWDR Corp. approved a budget of more than $700,000 to combat Boreal’s lack of natural terrain and establish a world-class terrain park.
In addition to a superpipe, rails, boxes and kickers, Rosenwald drew up a budget that included 20 terrain park crew members – 10 times as many as last season – two new grooming machines and a Zaugg pipe cutter. Then in early July, Rosenwald, 32, and Brian Reardon, 25, got to work on the largest terrain park investment in Northern California history.
The two North Shore locals predict the fruit of their labor will come in increased visitation and a switch in Boreal’s reputation, from sleepy Donner Summit ski area to global icon.
“This kind of thing doesn’t come around very often in this industry,” Rosenwald said. “Everything here is going to work and it’s all going to ride well. In other parks, everybody is trying so hard to be different. But they are trying so hard to be different that they aren’t focusing on what works and what doesn’t work.
“All of the things we’re going to have are going to work and are going to be fun, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a super pro.”
POWDR Corp. is a company with a penchant for producing quality terrain parks. Along with Alpine Meadows on the North Shore, it owns Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort, which Transworld Snowboarding said has the world’s best terrain park.
POWDR Corp. couldn’t have invested in someone more talented and proven than Rosenwald. An East Coast native, Rosenwald essentially saved June Mountain from a decade-long tailspin a few years ago.
After Mammoth Mountain Ski Area purchased June in 1986, the small central Sierra resort lost money and visits each year until 2000. That’s when Rosenwald was lured out West to design the resort’s terrain park.
During the 2001-2002 season, the first displaying Rosenwald’s touch, June broke even financially. The next season, June doubled its visitation and turned a profit for the first time in over a decade, according to Rosenwald. The next season after that June tripled its visitation.
ATTRACTING THE YOUTH MARKET
Boreal is hoping its all-mountain park will have the same effect. Just as June can’t compete with nearby Mammoth in natural terrain, Boreal can’t compete with nearby Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.
However, a quality terrain park is the great equalizer because it neutralizes the lack of natural terrain.
“Mammoth knew that youth marketing and youth action sports make money, so it went after the youth market to save June,” Rosenwald said. “Now that’s kind of a rare example because the resort hit rock bottom and there was no place to go but up. But by us putting up a capable terrain park, we’re going to increase visitation. Then it’s up to the other departments at the mountain to figure out how to make money.”
Reardon, another East Coast transplant who worked at Alpine Meadows’ terrain park last season, couldn’t agree more. A former liftee at Stowe, Vt., Reardon said Boreal’s on the verge of something major.
“It’s always a struggle for terrain park guys in resorts because you’re always fighting upper management,” Reardon said. “They think they know what you want, but they don’t. You’re the one out there with the kids every day listening to complaints. And they just sit back and think the park’s fine when it really needs help.
“It’s an honor to work with Eric and to be a part of this. It’s been the crazy, the hardest work I’ve ever done. It’s from the heart, too. The only reason why it got done was because we wanted it to be as good as it can be.”
Jibassic Pro Rail Jam
What: Urban rail competition/Film Premier
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Where: Boreal Mountain Resort, Donner Summit
Who: Twenty of the region’s top skiers and riders
More info: http://www.jibassicpark.com