When the school bell rings at 3:15pm on Thursdays, rather than dawdling (like they tend to do Monday through Wednesday), my kids sprint the two blocks home—there’s no time to hang out in the schoolyard or play video games and all homework is put aside (for now). In our household Thursday is the best day of the week—because Thursday is the day we go night skiing in the Orchard at Blue Mountain.
Being a family of ski racers, our week-night pilgrimage to the south end of Blue is a welcome departure from the hard-hitting gate training we do on the weekends. This is a chance for over scheduled kids to meet up with friends, drop their poles and simply have fun without an agenda, free from the boundaries put on them by coaches or instructors. With three progressive terrain parks, Blue Mountain has a little something for even the smallest jibber in your family. Riders new to freestyle will find a gentle introduction at either L-Park or the Grove Terrain Park. These spaces are home to foundational terrain park features that set the stage for great things to come. When they’re ready to test their skills at the next level, Badlands Terrain Park has everything they need to continue their progression.
“Night skiing in Blue’s terrain parks is so much fun,” says Jasper Williams, Grade 7 student at Beaver Valley Community School in Thornbury. “The jumps and rails are always in good shape and because the Orchard chair is fast my friends and I can get in, like, 30 runs in one night.”
Head park builder Dave Wright has been shaping the Blue Mountain snow parks for four seasons and has worked with Arena Snowparks and White Industries as well as the World Cup Ski Cross track at Blue Mountain. Arena Snowparks is a world-renowned company specializing in snow park design, development and construction. Since 2004, they have built countless slopestyle, big air, cross tracks, banked slaloms and worked on events like the Olympic Winter Games, World Championships and of course, the World Cup Ski Cross. This season will see the installation of three new boxes as well as a refresh on existing features which will increase your flow and ultimately, your stoke.
SKIER . COLE DREXLER
“Riding the park in the Orchard is my favourite place to go at Blue,” says Ronin McAllister, a grade 10 student at Georgian Bay Secondary School in Meaford. “The features are always a lot of fun and the hidden glades are the best. Skiing the Orchard is almost a little hidden area because there is never any one there accept kids riding the park—it never gets old!”
The L-Park, located on Centennial at the top of L-Hill, and accessible from the Silver Bullet chair, is comprised of small to medium features designed to fuel a lifelong passion for freestyle skiing or riding. Part way through the season L-Park transforms into a family friendly snow cross course—a fun and flowy track spattered with banked turns and burms. Located at the bottom of the Butternut trail, and accessible from the Orchard Express chair, The Grove Terrain Park is an entry level park which introduces riders to small and medium features. A park pass is not required for L-Park or The Grove.
The Badlands Terrain Park is an expert level park in Orchard, and consists of medium to extra-large features—a park pass is required to enter The Badlands. To get your terrain park pass, first you must watch an orientation video, complete a waiver and pay a nominal fee. Helmets are mandatory in all freestyle terrain areas.
“My brothers and I play a lot of hockey but we love skiing too,” says Bella Versant, a grade 9 student at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. “During the week our parents drop us off in the Orchard at Blue and we get to ride the park with our friends until close. It’s the best.”
With the most runs, the most vertical and arguably the best terrain park on the Escarpment, it’s not surprising that Blue Mountain is the training location for numerous pro skiers and riders based in Southern Georgian Bay. Speaking of which, The Frozen Rail Jam is back in the village for 2020! Freestyle skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to come out and participate in Ontario’s largest Rail Jam.
With $1,500 cash on the line and tons of prizes from Smith Optics, Ride, K2, Line, Full Tilt & Picture Organic, expect to see some heavy hitters throwing down some big tricks on Blue’s unique rail plaza. The Friday Night Rail Jam is Blue Mountain’s own grassroots terrain park event for skiers and snowboarders. Taking place at the bottom of Smart Alec, each division will compete in a 20-minute Jam on Blue’s unique and creative terrain.
Make the most of your family’s weeknights at Blue Mountain’s terrain parks. Open until 9pm, seven days a week.|E|
For a complete list of events log onto bluemountain.ca
Story by Cara Williams. Photography by Clay Dolan
SKIER . THOMAS DOLEZEL