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Riding the rails

The hearts of Castleton snowboarders and skiers are filled with hope as now that snow finally is covering campus grounds. The passionate students where so excited by the early snow late last semester they flocked to their unfinished freestyle park behind Wheeler Hall.

The work-in-progress park was influenced by the Freestyle Club’s Heather Slater.

Slater, a perky 20-year-old, from Effort, Pa., got the idea for the small on-campus park in her Community and Society class.

Slater, sitting in her small Babcock Hall room surrounded by magazine cut-outs of some of her favorite snowboarders, (J.P. Walker being her absolute favorite) explained how the class had an assignment to plan a place on campus where students could come together and hang out.

Being the president of the Freestyle Club, Slater couldn’t think of anything her fellow students needed more than a place to enjoy and share their passion for the slopes.

She worked with eight other students on the project and the group’s first step was to design the park they wanted, and come up with a location.

Once Slater’s plans were in place, she set out to make it happen.

She started by going to Physical Plant. She gave the department her plans and as Physical Plant official Rick Wareing put it, “yep the plans sounded good.”

Wareing also talked about the plan for a skateboard park in the near future.

“The skateboarders just haven’t made up a plan, and that’s why their park hasn’t happened yet,” he said.

“If you show them a good plan, they’re more than happy to help out,” Slater said. “You can’t just say ‘I want a park’ and expect them to just do it.”

Slater didn’t just rely on the Physical Plant though, she reached out to get some of the materials herself, and received donated rails from Killington, which are currently on site and have been in use in recent.

The only thing missing is a drop ramp. The drop ramp, which Slater had a hand in designing, is planned to be 8 feet wide by 8 feet tall, and have a 4-foot-long ramp.

An early Thursday night last semester brought the first significant snow fall of about four inches and brought out the impatient riders of all skill levels.The darkness of night doesn’t even stop the riders.

They lined the snowy site with their cars which cast harsh bright lights on the rails.

Without the drop ramp, the students have been relying on one another to get over the rails. They do what Slater described as slingshots, where someone has a person on each arm and they “slingshot them over the rails.”

Slater said the park was used by more than 20 people that Thursday night.

“The school doesn’t recognize that most of the out-of-state students who attend Castleton State College are here for the skiing and snowboarding,” she said.

The day of the first snowfall meant more to the group than just the first sign of winter, for it was also the day they received $500 from the school to get the materials for the drop ramp.

Slater said the materials were purchased at The Home Depot and according to Wareing the ramp was to be built last semester.

“Significant snowfalls would help inspire people to help get the project underway faster,” Wareing also stated.

Dan Gardner, area coordinator and snowboarder, thinks the small park is a great idea saying he does realize that a very large percentage of the student body snowboards or skis.

“I think that it’s great, cause it’s a good opportunity for the Physical Plant to build up a relationship with the students,” Gardner said.

The new park isn’t just a good thing for the snowboarders and skiers, it’s a great example of how things can happen when you just stay motivated and plan well, “someone just needs to take the initiative,” Slater said.

Slater’s parting words of advice to CSC riders was, “Please respect the park, and don’t move equipment around unless you think it will benefit everyone.