words: Mary Walsh
captions: T. Bird
photos: Ryan “Huggy” Hughes, Mike Yoshida, E-Stone, Aaron Blatt, T. Bird, and Mark Clavin
The morning of day 4 of Superpark 19 presented by Nexen Tire was draped in a low fog. Though visibility was stunted, the snow was fast and as build crews manned rakes to maintain features affected by the damp weather, riders skated to the Blitzen chairlift on the front face of Seven Springs and began to take misty laps, grouping up for sessions in the Bear tranny zone, on the Seven Springs jump, and on the Boreal double line. The Burton Knowbuddys ripped runs, Coonhead took to the sky on the channel gap, Erik Leon and Scott Blum planted quarters and Jamie Nicholls and Rowan Coultas hit up some tree transition.
As the clouds lifted, The Streets populated with eagerly hiking riders like Jesse Paul, Ryland West, Zack Normandin, Oliver Dixon, Peter Limberg, Jasper Alford, Enni Rukajarvi, Brandon Davis, Scotty Vine and many more. As with previous days, the covered deck served as the peanut gallery as boarders took breaks from hiking and hung out in between stacking shots, cheering when a hammer was landed. In addition to the high hip airs, the hitching post handplants, and the other on hill moments that are quickly burned to memory during a given Superpark, a large part of the week is all about the community, the couple hundred snowboarders who are gathered in one place to ride together, feed off one another's style and trick selection and get stoked when someone lands something sick. Few individuals have been a part of this phenomenon for as long as Boreal Action Sports Director, Eric Rosenwald. This week at Seven Springs marks his thirteenth Superpark as a builder. During the early evening on Day 4, Eric took a few moments to discuss what he, Boreal Snow Surfaces Manager, Matt Melilli and Boreal Snow Surfaces Specialist, Lane Knaack and the rest of the crew have experienced during Superpark 19. Interesting to note, is that at Boreal, all park, snowmaking and grooming is run by the same group of people, which is headed off by Matt and Lane. These guys not only make the snow, the groom the trails, and they build the park. It's a cohesive structure and each year they come to Superpark, their building and grooming abilities shines through the creative set ups they create.
How many Superparks have you done?
Eric Rosenwald: I have to count (laughs). We have Seven Springs, Keystone, Keystone, Lake Louise, Boreal has done four. Alpine is five, and that was when we were the same company. Woodward did three, and then Joe Genovese (Seven Springs Terrain Park Manager) and I were at June and did one, and also did another one with June. In one way, shape or form, it adds up to thirteen.
You might have the record.
And like, Matt Melilli (Boreal Snow Surfaces Manager), our head builder, was a part of the Keystone build crew when we were there, so he's been a part of a couple. Joe's been a part of the Mountain High build crew, the June Mountain build crew, Seven Springs build crew….So it's pretty cool to see this group of builders that has come up in the industry together over the past twelve to fifteen years keep cycling through Superpark together. It's like a homecoming every year.
You grew up building on the East Coast before moving out West, so you're familiar with conditions out here, but what was it like coming here for Superpark and how has that affected the last couple weeks for you and your crew?
I think from a build standpoint there's definitely considerations everywhere you go, but I don't think we came out worried about how the weather or the snow was going to affect our build. Every place you go, as long as there's snow, there's other aspects, whether it's weather, rain, sun, cold, warm—that stuff affects you on a daily basis, but if you don't have the volume of snow, you just can't do it. And there was enough snow here which was awesome. As long as there is enough snow, everything's good. It's actually more snow than we've had to work with in a long time.
Obviously it's been a light winter in Tahoe, so coming here and being able to play around with more than you've been able to recently must have been fun/
This is no joke, there was more snowmaking made in our zone here than we were able to make on our entire mountain this winter because of the drought. So for us, coming out here, gloves came off. "Cool, we get to do what we want to do now." All winter, the crew's had one hand tied behind their backs, just because they don't have the material to build what they have in their minds.
Where did the ideas for the Boreal features come from? Every year you have mixed it up a lot. You guys have made jib plazas, step-overs, step ups, the list goes on. How did you decide on the creation of this year's features?
Well coming out here with The Streets already being in place, that made doing a plaza redundant, which was actually a good thing because Matt Melilli is a genius when it comes to jumps. Usually he builds the jump and the other part of the crew builds the plaza, so right off the bat, he was like, "We want to do a double line." And I was stoked. It was a great idea; there hasn't been a good double line at Superpark in years because it's been just single features, so that's really the only idea we had coming in. Plus, he and I sat in the office one day and I scribbled some drawings of some transition with some steel on it, but we didn't really have a "this is exactly what we're going to build plan," just a concept. Once we found the zone, we zeroed in on Matt's concept of the inside out channel gap. I'll step back, that one was totally planned out by Matt before we got here. We just needed a location to do it. Everything else was fitted around it. Matt fully had that concept in his head, for probably who knows how long before he got here. That was the showcase, then the terrain dictated how the double line came together and once we used up all the snow for the double line, that dictated what we would do for jibs. So it was an evolving process once we arrived and started building.
There hasn't been a hitching post feature in a long time and the massive gap to rail is really sick as well.
I think it was Lane Knaack (Snow Surface Specialist) that came up with the big rail. The guys felt there just needed to be a big, super rail at Superpark. They call it the "big boy step up" because there's no doing it halfway–you've got to commit to that thing. I really wanted to have as much rideable tranny as we could, too. We had grander plans of doing a lot of tranny leading into our zones, but all that snow got taken down for the jump, so that whole concept got distilled into just alright I want to see a handlplant on steel above a tranny. And we saw it, so it was pretty cool.
Have there been any big challenges or benefits of being out here, compared to the past superparks you have been at all out west?
This might be off topic, but I think it's an amazing thing for the sport that Superpark is here. I grew up just outside of Washington D.C., and I rode this place in the late eighties and early nineties. For lack of a better word, I can relate to the riders here. Looking at the kids on Facebook and Instagram, they are losing their shit that Superpark is in the Midatlantic. If I was that kid now, I would be losing my shit, too. I think it's a good thing for snowboarding on the East Coast, so that resorts know, brands now, the riders know, it doesn't have to happen out West. It can happen here, too. Like I said before about the whole homecoming thing, Joe grew up just as far away from here as I did and it's funny we never knew each other when we both lived here, we met working out West. But, I think it's really neat that a lot of what has made things happen out West has come from people that grew up here and moved away because the opportunity wasn't here. I hope this shows that there will be opportunities in the future in this part of the country for snowboarding on this level.