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This state of Shred Brought to you by the fine folks of Dinosaurs in Outerspace aka John Farrell, Art McNulty and Nate Nalevanko
Pennsylvania may not be a famous travel destination in the world of snow sports, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some good ‘ol fashioned boardin’ done here. Where to go? What to do? Well, while it may not boast mountains like Vermont or New Hampshire, Pennsylvania has become an East Coast hotspot. Led by Big Boulder and Seven Springs, resorts here are finally realizing that the key to winning over kids’ hearts and their parents’ checkbooks is running awesome terrain parks. You won’t be getting your yearly allotment of powder days, but there are fun mountains, and lots of beers and Bshaw to go around with your buds. If you can’t have fun hot-lapping great parks all day with your friends in PA, then you must be from NYC. In addition to the resort and park riding there is actually a lot of urban shit to hit. PA has natural snow from December through March with the occasional Nor-easter dump of a couple feet. Pretty much every small town has some gnarly down rail and enough bomb drops to secure that ACL surgery.
Best Park: Big Boulder on the eastern half, 7 Springs on the western side
Best Pipe: 7 Springs Superpipe
Best Late Season Contest: May Day at Big Boulder. http://vimeo.com/5165421
Best Early Season Contest: University of Pittsburgh Snowboard Team Weird Box Jam http://vimeo.com/16834333
Best Late Season Set-Up: 7 Springs. You’ve seen the crazy shit they build for Forum, and the stuff they have for the public is smaller version for all us average joes to chuck in the April corn snow. http://vimeo.com/15988379 http://vimeo.com/12313404
Best Lift: 7 Springs’ Polar Bear Express 6-Pack accessing 2 rope tow parks in one run
Best Hot Lap: Freedom Park (rail garden) at Big Boulder
Weirdest Fun Boxes: Bear Creek
Sluttiest Lifties: Big Boulder
Best Shred Beer: Yuengling
Best City: Philly
Best Place To Make Something Out Of Nothing: Tussey Mountain. 4 runs on less than 500 feet of vertical, but 15 minutes from Penn State University, which happens to be home to the state’s most sexually active/gayest/drunkest snowboard team
Best Spray Run: Camelback’s Nile Mile
Best Bargain: Big Boulder, $50 weekend all day, plus college night deals
Worst Bargain: Seven Springs, $70 weekend all day, plus lots of ski patrol
Best Bar: McGinley’s Pocono Trail Lodge, right down the road from Big Boulder.
Most Circus Features: Blue Mountain (down-flat-down s-box, cement mixer wallride, school bus podium box, 180deg c-box, various roller coaster features, and air bag jump)
Boulder has really stepped their game up in recent years. The mountain boasts seven parks: Freedom (hot lap rail park, look for a rhythm section to the right in the woods), Tannenbaum (beginner park, box heaven), Love Park (medium size jumps and rails), DC Central Park (Various DC-branded rails and wallrides), Boulder Park (40-70 foot jumps with some rails and/or a hip), Snowdrift (wood rails and a rail-filled minipipe) and the Plaza (hikeable rail park right after Boulder Park). They also build a really fun late-season park on Bunny’s Elbow (HINT HINT Boulder – make this a park all year long). And there’s a miniramp on the deck of the Red Bull lodge overlooking the Plaza if you want to skate and scene out.
Boulder caters the entire resort to snowboarding, and it shows. The majority of the crowd is snowboarders, and there aren’t really any ski patrollers around to bother you. The downside of that — if you go off a jump in Love Park, there’s a pretty good chance you will land on a small child as their jabrony dad in his Giant’s Starter jacket yells at you. Boulder outdoes itself every year with new rails, new park layouts, a hard-working park crew, and the best event this side of the Mississippi, MayDay (Full park run, with lift, first Saturday of May). And being just under 2 hours from Philly, there’s lots of stuff to do once you leave the mountain. Come here to get loose in the backwoods with your derelict friends.
Seven Springs is into big features, please watch the Forum Team movies for evidence. Their premier park, The Spot, is a great place to do some big pipe riding, see locals chucking double corks on the three jump line, and hit some heavy donkey dicks. This is where you want THE Ian Macy to follow you around with his fisheye to get some shots for a Springs edit. If you’re into some casual laps go to the North Face to ride The Alley (where you can get about 20 jumps and jibs in one run) or the North Face with its smaller halfpipe and medium jump line. These are the places to hang out on the weekends as the rest of Springs gets packed with rowdy Steelers fans and entitled assholes up from DC.
The Front Face has a beginner rope tow park up top which is a great place to warm up on some small rails and boxes. At the bottom of the run is the Foggy Bowl area where Joel Rerko and his crew put in their signature rail features for all the drunk cougars and deadbeat dads to watch you chuck some whirlybirds onto handrails. There are some really solid tree runs off the Gunnar lift when there’s fresh snow (about once every other week). Look for some hippie skiers smoke shack in the woods off Corkscrew. And that brings me to the worst part about Seven Springs, there are a lot of hyphy skiers here. It’s unbearable at times and some features are definitely built with them in mind, but most of them are pretty chill if you get inverted.
I’ll say it right now, Tussey is nothing to write home about. Under 500’ vertical, one rickety-ass quad lift, and shitty management. But, Tussey is right next to Penn State, and they have lax ticket enforcement. There is a park that has been getting better in recent years, but you go to Tussey to get weird with your friends on weekday afternoons. Tons of rock and log jibs, exploring to do in the woods, and lots of lightpoles/snowmaking towers to jib. Tussey has a lot of potential, and they are getting some new rails and a better outlook towards snowboarding in general. Hit up ya bois at Penn State Snowboard Club if you want shown around. After a loose day of riding, we can grab a(nother) case of bud heavies and warm our hands in some freshmen girls while watching all the hottest edits on thecatfishchronicles.blogspot.com.
Bear Creek is located about an hour from Philly, and a half hour from West Chester, a fun college town. Sometimes they run into issues with snow coverage, but they make a really good effort to keep the parks a focus of the resort. You can find an assortment of rails and jumps, and some really weird circus-feature boxes. Black Bear is the main park, running right under the high-speed quad. There’s typically a 3 jump line, 15-30 feet, with rail options all the way to the bottom. Cascade is the other park, which is more focused on rails, but usually with a jump or two. They also converted a section of the tubing area to a bigger three jump line. Expect to find 30-60 foot jumps once they are in full swing. The mood at Bear isn’t nearly as fun as Boulder, and it’s generally a little skier-friendly in both attendance and rail setup (straight-on rails!), but they have some fun parks, and the location is great, with lots of sunny, slushy days. Be warned, they check tickets all day every day, and are dicks.
Roundtop is in central PA, about half an hour south of Harrisburg. There are two parks at Roundtop, plus a shitty halfpipe. Bunker Hill park is the intermediate park, and has an assortment of rails and boxes, as well as a 20’ jump. The main park, Fife & Drum, is serviced by its own lift. The set-ups vary from awesome handrails, concrete ledges with creepers, and kink rails, to weird box features, and jump lines, but there’s always some good stuff to have fun on. Unfortunately, Roundtop is mainly populated by dipshit high school skiers in neon nightgowns listening to dubstep. It’s relatively close in proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. which also means that on weekends you can expect busloads of tourists ready to take to snow for the first time. Overall, a fun little mountain with a pretty awesome park that has recently improved.