Meet The Men Who Build Your Freestyle Parks

They love half pipes

If you’ve ever been along to one of our freestyle nights (Freestyle Madness on Thursdays and Friday Freestyle on Fridays), you’ll notice that we always have an array of freestyle features you can hit. I pestered James, one of the members of our park team, to find out what it actually takes to build a freestyle park. He told me about the biggest and best freestyle park the team have made and how they physically shape the park every week.

Firstly, who’s in our park team?

Chris Yates – A great picture of Chris’ nose..

James Bowman – the star of this week’s blog

Angus Malloch

Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson

So, James, how did you get into park shaping?

I first got into park shaping when I was 13/14, I used to help my dad build and shape the park in Glencoe. Since being in snow factor though, I firstly volunteered to help out the park team, and once you’ve volunteered for quite a few hours you can get properly trained on how to shape. This is how most of us get into shaping, we see the park getting built in here, we volunteer to help out, we learn about building parks and then we become part of the team.

What’s difference between shaping a park for an indoor snow slope and on a mountain?

Well, the snow in on an indoor snow slope is a lot softer, so it takes more time to actually build it. Also we build a different park weekly. The parks in Scotland’s mountain resorts won’t change as often. There’s only a small amount of skiers and riders who’ll use the features, so often they can stay out for a few weeks.

What’s the most difficult feature to build?

Box features. Boxes are very heavy and quite awkward to lift because they’ve  don’t have handles.

flat box  This is what a box looks like for those who are unfamiliar with freestyle features. That’s Rio, one of our team leaders, bossing the box.

How long does it usually take to build a park?

3-4hours. But sometimes the Cat* breaks down and we have to build things by hand.

cat

* A lean, mean snow moving and bashing machine

Walk me through what you have to make a feature, eg a kicker (the name for a steep jump).

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  • We use the cat to push and gather the snow to make the landing.
  • We then use the cat do push and gather the snow to make the actual kicker
  • We then shape it by hand
  • After this we’ll then judge the angle of the kicker by eye or using an inklemonitor?
  • We go home and then the morning staff will reshape any parts that have softened ( the snow in indoor snow slopes is a lot softer than outdoor mountain snow).
  • They’ll then water the feature ( like watering a massive plant) which will make it firm and ready to be used

What’s the best feature you’ve ever helped to build?

It was definitely the park we made for the Red Bull Jib Network. We had 24 hours to make the best feature possible to the theme of ‘urban street’. We started at 10pm and finished at 6am the following morning. We would have finished earlier but the cat broke, so we had shape and build it all by hand!

jib2

The park build in progress. Photo credit: Greg Bow

 

jib

Photo credit: James Bowman

jib 3

Photo Credit: Angus Malloch

 

red bull feature 27th march

The  park plan for the Red Bull Jib Network Comp

What feature would you love to build?

A half pipe. *he says smiling and nodding*

If you could work at any park resort, where would you like to work.

Laax, Park city or Bear mountain.

What advice would you give to anyone new to parks ?

Don’t be intimidated by the skiers and riders on the parks, we’re actually all very friendly. And if its your first time trying to use a feature, try a flat box and build up from there. Oh, and if you’re new to freestyle, come along on a Thursday night, we make this park for all levels of freestyle skiers and riders, and if you want the more advanced park features or your just feeling a bit more badass than usual, come along on a Friday night 

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So there you have it, folks. If this has given the urge to have a go at freestyle, Click here to pre-book your freestyle session for  Freestyle madness (Thursdays) and here for Friday Freestyle (Fridays…).

Want some help with your freestyle skills?

We offer informal freestyle coaching on Thursday evenings, its only £5 and it’s an add on when you get to the check out.