The Sugarbush Parks Program has been a staple of our operations at Mt. Ellen for years. Despite a slow snow start through November and December, and the COVID circumstances, this year has proven to be no different. The Sugarbush Parks team has taken every opportunity presented by what has turned into an excellent season to build the best terrain parks on the East Coast.
During December, the Parks team built at Lincoln Peak on Snowball and Slowpoke, and on Straight Shot on Mt. Ellen, providing an excellent platform for freestyle thrill-seekers to work on their early season progression.
The Straight Shot park became a huge hit for park skiers and boarders during January. What started as a three feature progression park, and through a ton of late nights and hard work, turned into a 18 feature hike park.
Packing features into limited space in the most creative manor possible is the Sugarbush Parks specialty. This design and build style isn’t focused on building the biggest, most “gnarly” slopestyle parks. Instead the dig crew focuses on building terrain parks that are part snow playground, part art project.
As the Straight Shot park grew, mother nature bagan smiling upon the Mad River Valley, and blessed us with some much needed snow. Thanks to natural precipitation, and hours of hard work from the Mt. Ellen Snowmaking and Grooming teams, building under the Sunshine Quad became possible.
The Park Crew’s bread and butter trails, Riemergasse and Sugar Run, were built by the dig team during two frigid weeks at the end of January. Their hard work and dedication to building the best parks possible shines through in these two trails. Described by the Park Crew themselves as their “Brainchild”, the build on Riemergasse is the perfect combination of progressive, creative, and challenging. Riders of all skill level are considered, and it’s not uncommon to see guests of all ages having a blast learning, filming each other, and cheering from the lift for their peers.
The Parks team has always put pride in the media that comes out of their builds. Sugarbush Parks has two long standing video edit series, “Bush Bandits” highlighting the skiing talent, and “Bush League” showing off the snowboarders of Bush Parks. Both of these series are produced by me, the resident media specialist and dig crew member. The Bandits and League series have been around for years, are a great picture of how the parks at Mt. Ellen have changed over the years, and there are over 45 episodes available to watch on the Sugarbush Parks YouTube Channel.
In past years, springtime in the terrain parks has always meant a few things… sun, slushy snow, smiles, and some incredible events like Down Rails and Double Kinks or the Surfsiders Banked Slalom. Due to COVID guidelines this year, in person events had to be cancelled. This was heartbreaking for the Parks Department. Instead of hosting events in-person this year, Sugarbush Parks is hosting a virtual video contest ICEOLATED. Park skiers and riders can submit their best tricks from the season on Instagram, and have the chance to win some great prizes from Darn Tough Socks, Splinters Boardshop, Arsenic Anywhere, Monster Energy, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids.
The Sugarbush Parks team is looking forward to the remainder of the season. They currently have over 120 freestyle features spread between their parks on Riemergasse, Sugar Run, Slowpoke, and Sugarbear Forest. Be sure to pop into any of these freestyle areas to check out the creative build style Sugarbush Parks is known for. If riding the parks isn’t your style, just take a quick ride up the Sunshine Quad, and be sure to cheer on the skiers and boarders ripping it up below.
Finally, it’s important to recognize how the Sugarbush Parks program got to where it is today. Nobody is probably more singularly responsible for raising the bar of the parks scene here than Tony Chiuchiolo. The rise of the park scene here and Tony’s role in it is well documented in this Sugarbush Magazine article from a couple years ago. Well worth a read.
Sadly though, several days ago Sugarbush lost this visionary when Tony passed away.
Tony was a mentor, boss, father figure, and friend to everyone that had the pleasure of spending time with him. It didn’t matter who you were, Tony was the first to welcome you to Reimergrass and make you feel included in what can be an intimidating environment. He fostered a community of like-minded skiers and snowboarders who all shared a deep love for their sports. Even if you side-jumped the lips for rails, Tony made it his duty to make you feel a part of the #BushParks family.
Our hearts go out to Tony’s family, and we will continue his legacy every day here at #Sugarbush. There is currently a GoFundMe to help support his family. If you would like to help out, you visit it here.