Call it snowboarding’s back-to-nature movement, its Bob Dylan basement tapes or just green-riding, Burton Snowboard’s Stash program is going pure country with its emphasis on organic park design.
First implemented in the board giant’s own backyard at Killington, Vt., then at Northstar-at-Tahoe, Vail Resorts’ new California acquisition, and this season at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming, Stash parks represent a new focus on the ways that ski resorts can enhance existing terrain.
“The concept of the Stash has been pretty consistent,” Burton founder Jake Burton Carpenter says of the brand’s widening foray into slope design. “And that’s to just take whatever the indigenous materials or features might be and just maybe amplify them a little bit or set them up in the right sequence so that riders can have a lot of fun.”
Whether it’s smoothing out the run-up to a rock feature, or cutting dead trees to create gladed rails in wooded areas, the Stash concept promotes natural features over manufactured ones, and stands as an antithesis to the bright lights and big pipes of modern halfpipe riding.
“It’s really about getting back to the roots of snowboarding, when your hits were rocks and stumps in the days before the massive gaps and manufactured jumps that we’re riding,” said Shaun Cattanach, Burton’s resort programs manager.
With two Stash parks in Europe, and one in New Zealand’s Remarkable Range, Burton’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort introduction marks the sixth Stash design. It covers four different runs and more than 50 specially designed features, and is by far the most extensive and heavily marketed of the Stash introductions.
“There was a message in our consumer catalog, it's prominently featured on our website, which is the most widely viewed website in the industry, and the Stash has its own website (www.thestash.com) where we’re running a sales contest right now,” Cattanach said of Burton’s own in-house promotion of the Jackson introduction.
“It’s probably one of the most extensive parks anywhere, and the sixth of its kind in the world,” said Zahan Billmoria, communications manager at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. “It’s taken thousands of man hours, wood, logs, granite and some spectacular chainsaw work to bring it all to fruition.”
The same way that golfers imagine a new golf course, Burton and its team of key influencers, including local Jackson pros Brian Iguchi, Rob Kingwill and Travis Rice, and Global Resort Director Jeff Boliba, spent the summer diagramming and formatting how to enhance Jackson’s already incredible existing terrain. Once all of the groundwork was done, chainsaw artist Bob King, who is based in Washington state, was hired to create freestanding caricatures of “Shreddie Yetis” and long log rails for each of the runs.
“It’s a natural fit for Jackson Hole in many ways,” said Ranyon d’Arge, park and pipe supervisor at Jackson Hole. “We wanted to build a park that was in keeping with our natural environment, and the Stash does that by using native rock, dirt and wood, creating this incredible organic terrain park.”
Freestyle ski and snowboarding is certainly experiencing its own version of maturation. With Slopestyle competition poised to be accepted as an official event for the Winter Olympics, and gold medal halfpipe hero Shaun White recently filling in for Regis Philbin on the "Regis & Kelly Show," the genre’s cross-culture appeal has gone decidedly mainstream.
Now, with its first introduction of a Stash park in the Rocky Mountains, Burton is busy weaving together its new message of a roots-based revival of all-mountain jibbing.
“Certainly, an aspect of who we have been working with has been something of a geographically influenced decision,” says Cattanach. “Having two Stash parks at areas right next door to each other would detract from both of them. So we’ve really been focused on areas that have proved how committed they have been for years to embracing the cutting edge of snowboarding.”
Just like with rock and roll, or maybe politics, going back to snowboarding’s grassroots might be today’s most innovative way to make freestyle’s original appeal the most relevant again.
See more of the Burton Stash by clicking here.
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