Student riders throw down in the park

After the snow gods granted Castleton 11 inches of snow late last week, many riders took to the slopes of local mountains. For some, however, a couple shovels and a little ambition was all that was needed to throw down in the rail park a few steps outside of Hoff Hall.

As the falling snow glistened through beaming light from Hoff Hall at 9 p.m. Tuesday night, enthusiastic riders diligentlysituated the rails and precisely sculpted the ramps, reflecting the character of a passionate rider.

The flow of the flakes combined with the sound of twin-tip skis grinding over a 14-foot rail was irresistible. The envy of onlookers brought pride to the eyes of those climbing the ramp. The creativity of the riders grabbed the attention of anyone who walked by. It was clear the riders had been patiently waiting to play in the park.

 “It’s a privilege to have this park on campus,” said Connor Mchugh, a sophomore from Barre. “Not many schools are lucky enough to have a rail park on campus.”

Most riders say they are simply stoked that they’re able to walk right outside of their dorm and have a rail session with their buddies without having to commit most of a day to riding at a resort.   

Despite the lack of hills on campus, Physical Plant workers along with the Freestyle Club enabled riders to find the speed they need to fully utilize the park’s features by building a drop ramp.

During the fall of 2006 and winter or 2007, Heather Slater, president of the Freestyle Club, worked cooperatively with Physical Plant to choose a location,design the park and construct a drop ramp sufficient for riders to launch onto rails, climb the quarter-pipe, and hit the jump.

Slater the mastermind behind the project – reached out to Killington and successfully acquired most of the rails being used in the park today.

For the drop ramp,the school donated $500 for Physical Plant lead carpenter Bill Bunker to demonstrate his expertise. The end result: an 8-foot-tall by 8eight-foot-wide momentum producing tier.

Many of CSC’s back-yard riders seem to ride the park at sporadic times, but some students suggested that it would be nice for riders to coordinate and converge sessions, allowing riders to share their ace tricks and practice new ones.

“It would be nice to see more students come out, especially on Friday and Saturday nights,” said Brad Peterson as his buddies behind him agreed.

Paterson and his friends would like to find a way to play music during Friday and Saturday night rides, which he said would “set the perfect tone for a campus riding session.”

The only downfall, according to riders, is the lack of light. Rob Bresnan of Milford, Conn., said the four light posts closest to the park used to illuminate the park, but have recently been turned off. Bresnan hopes to coordinate with administrators to get them turned back on.

Slater, who now lives in Pennsylvania and is still going to school as a social work major because her schooling has twice been interrupted by two tours of duty in Afghanistan, was elated to hear the park is still being used.

“That’s so awesome,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s great for people who can’t get to the mountain. “That’s why we wanted it there in the first place.”

Slater praised Physical Plant workers saying their effort to help her make the park a reality was “amazing.”