The squeak of a binding, the thwap of a board, the shing of a rail, and the underlyingly complex park chatter are all things you’ll hear while walking by the terrain park on the Castleton campus.
Senior Adam Osha leans down the ramp, glides through the snow, and launches off the kicker. The camera flashes, his board slaps the landing and he slides off cleanly before coming to an abrupt stop at the fence of the skatepark.
“Is it sick?” he said through a buzz of anticipation.
After a long first week of Zoom meetings, Castleton students are finally back on campus for another semester, and the snow is too. Burton hoodies, Arc’teryx jackets, and Smith stickers on your classmate’s water bottles have begun to stand out since the great return, and those are just a few things that reveal who you’ll find on the mountain every weekend.
Skiers and snowboarders aren’t too difficult to pick out of the crowd, and they become easily discoverable at the terrain park located between the dorm buildings that make up the triad of Hoff, Ellis, and Wheeler halls.
Tricks in the park begin with the ladder that carries riders up the 10-foot-high wooden ramp and leads down to the backyard array of obstacles placed in its quaint path ahead.
Riders are challenged with two jibs, one kicker, a wall to ride across, and a risky set of stairs that may be seen as unfit for the ordinary sender.
Skiers and snowboarders on campus have two student athletes to thank for getting the park ready for enjoyment: Addison Schaub and Zac Willis.
“It probably took us a couple hours total, but it was pretty easy. Just had to move the snow where we needed it and give it some shape,” said Schaub, the third-year kinesiology major who works in the rental shop at Killington.
The stoke is in the air, and the terrain park’s convenience compels it to be easily attainable.
“I honestly love it. When I can’t get to the mountain it’s awesome to be able to go ride right in our backyard,” said Willis, a sophomore from Boston.
Sophomore nursing student Connor Murphy thinks the park turned out great, but he made sure to put an emphasis the importance of prior experience before dropping in.
“I think it’s great for the size of it, although if you don’t know what you’re doing you won’t get enough speed to hit any of the features,” Murphy said.
Its size may interfere with speed, but experienced riders face the issue with no fear.
“That kicker rail might be my favorite. It sends you. I want to try to three off it next time I go,” said Osha.
By “three” he means 360.
The terrain park provides riders who are looking to level up with an in-house opportunity to give new tricks a try. 50-50’s, boardslides, and tail taps, are open for business with the jibs.
The kicker offers enough air to achieve a new grab, and plenty room for spinning. The wall on the side gives skiers and snowboarders some room for creativity, and the staircase might need some more cushion before anyone gives it a try.
“When Castleton clears the sidewalks of snow it would be awesome if they could push that snow into the park,” Murphy said.
As far as the future of the park goes, Schaub and Willis agreed they’d like to incorporate the jib by the skatepark that isn’t in use yet.
“There’s a smaller flat rail down at the bottom that we want to fit in there somewhere, but other than that I like the way it’s set up right now,” Willis said.
The park remains open for utilization as long as it’s maintained. Schaub suggests it’s a good idea for people using the park to leave it in a similar condition as it was when they left their first trail behind them.
Osha, Murphy, Willis and Schaub share a common interest of hitting the park at least once or twice a week, and when they aren’t there, groups of at least two people are seen occupying it at night.
“It would be pretty cool to get a jam going out there,” Osha said, hinting at an opportunity for students to get together and bond over a shared interest.