Monday, August 20, 2007

Terrain Park Rangers Keeping Guests Safe

by Thomas Vendittelli

The sun rises over Wachusett Mountain State Reservation and guests arrive early for a taste of the fresh snow on the mountain. From the summit of Wachusett Mountain Ski Resort the view is majestic, providing misty glimpses of forest as far as the eye can see. Within seconds of opening the park gates, snowboarders and skiers alike are showing up to try their skills against Wachusett’s very intense terrain.

“Hey Buddy,” yells terrain park ranger Brendan Grierto the first boarder to arrive at the terrain park. “…Where’s your pass?”

Wachusett’s terrain park managers spend a lot of time on their skis and boards, listening to classic rock music and watching people wipe out. But there’s more going on there than meets the eye. There is a constant effort to keep every guest safe on the slope.

A ranger’s most important task is monitoring everyone who enters the terrain park to make sure they possess a park pass. A pass can be attained only after watching a videotaped program hosted by world-class freestyle snowboarder, Sean White. The rangers make sure that anyone who wants a pass understands the content of the video, which focuses on safety and responsibility.

Grierto quizzes the viewers to make sure they paid attention. “Guys, what are the 3 main points of smart style?” he asks a group of boarders when the tape ends. Only when the guests correctly answer the quiz questions are they allowed to purchase a pass.

While issuing and checking passes takes up a lot of a park ranger’s time, watching out for guests who may be an injury-risk is another huge responsibility. To prevent accidents, rangers must make sure the people who purchase a pass are at the appropriate skill and maturity level. “We see at least four to five bad injuries a day out here,” Grierto said, highlighting the importance of watching the guests carefully.

The busiest time for terrain park managers is the beginning of the season. They are charged with setting up the entire park when the resort is ready to open. It is a time consuming and genuinely tough job, yet they are allowed only one day to get it all done!

“The best part is when we get all the rails up on that first day,” said “Teddy” Straight, another terrain park ranger at Wachusett. “When the kids are all stoked about it – that’s a really good feeling.”

That is what a ranger finds most gratifying, Grier said. While he enjoys spending his workday on the mountain, fixing jumps and listening to good music all day, the most rewarding part of his job is “making sure everybody’s safe, and just making sure everybody has a good time.”

Thomas Vendittelli is a student at Wagner College in Staten Island. He wrote this article as an assignment for an internship with the Eastern Ski Writers Association, under the guidance of Janet Franz.

Snowboard Instructors at Wachusett Mountain

The Coolest Kids on the Mountain

By Lisa Perosi

Skiing down the mountain at Wachusett Ski Resort, I hear loud voices and laughter. I look up to see a girl, about 15 years old, flying over my head on her snowboard. She lands a perfect nose grab and rides past me with her friends. Who is she? She is Missy Wiitala, snowboard instructor.

Most of the snowboard instructors at Wachusett are under age 21. They report to Matt Leland, their manager and mentor. Leland, a father of four children, has been snowboarding for 27 years. He larned Princeton, Mass. “Snowboarding is part of who you are, once the snow is on the mountain I need to ride, its infectious, and the other instructors share my passion for riding,” he said.

I shared that passion when I went into the terrain park with some instructors. I shadowed Wiitala for a beginner’s lesson by the bunny hill and got some pointers from instructor Nicky Fitzgerald.

“I know this park like I know my own bedroom!” Fitzgerald said to me while we shared a ride up the lift. At 16 years old, she showed incredible confidence and skill and was a great teacher in the park. With her guidance, I learned to go off several low jumps and ride in the half pipe.


Leland describes snowboard lessons as “ed-u-tainment” because the student will be educated but also entertained by the lesson. Also according to Leland, “…it’s best to learn from a snowboard instructor and not from a friend or family member”


The instructors’ snowboarding skills range from intermediate to expert, but they all must attend the Wachusett Instructor Training Course (ITC) prior to teaching.

Wiitala started snow boarding when she was 11, and has been an instructor at Wachusett for about one year. She and remains close friends with the people who attended ITC with her and enjoys spending time on the mountain with them.

“When I don’t have school I will arrive at Wachusett Mountain at around 8 a.m. and I will stay there until 10 or 11. When we have school I arrive at 3 p.m. and leave at around 10 or 11pm.”

Lesson times are 10:30 am; 1:00pm; 5:30pm; and first time lessons only at 7:30pm. Weekend and holiday lessons begin at 9:00am, conditions permitting. Group lessons cost $30 and a one-hour private lesson costs $65. The instructors often receive monetary tips from their students, but they agree that the best tip they can receive is a successful lesson.

Teaching someone to snow board is “…the coolest thing to teach, because you can give this sport to someone in one hour,” Leland said. “You can teach them to stop and how to ride heal and toe side in the first lesson.”

Snow boarding has been passed down from generations since the 1940’s, “when snow boarding began in the 1940’s it was called ‘Snurfing’ and the sport progressed from there.”

Leland finds riding the mountain to be peaceful and therapeutic. “It’s like my therapy, and it’s a great escape from stress.”

I expected snowboarders to be very Zen-like and hip, so I was not surprised that the kids that gave the lessons were as cool as can be. While leaving the cool snowboard instructors I reflected on what I had learned from them: I must keep my knees bent while landing a jump and try not to be afraid of catching air or of “clearing the landing” (over shooting the jump). Wilson was good enough to give my novice skier friend some tips for his first time out as well. I was impressed with how much these kids knew not only about snowboarding but about other snow sports, too.


Lisa Perosi is a student at Wagner College in Staten Island. She wrote this article as an assignment for an internship with the Eastern Ski Writers Association, under the guidance of Janet Franz.

Interview with Halfpipe Judge Michael A. Cohen

interviewed by Lauren Traub Teton

Find out what is going on in the judges' minds while you are flinging yourself around in the air in a competition.

"I judge a little differently than other judges because of my skateboard background. In halfpipe and slopestyle, I¹m looking for a resurgence of skateboard moves and style."

We first met Michael Cohen on the chairlift at Killington last Spring where he was judging at
Spring Loaded and then caught up with him in New York City for an interview.

Is there an association for snowboard judges?
The IJC - ­ International Judges Committee.
In my region (Southern VT) there are 10-15 judges.
Every big halfpipe competition has 4 judges. Some major events like the US Open have 8 judges, a front line and a back line.
We¹re all 4 either at the top of the pipe or the bottom.

Certificates and training
Through IJC, you get a certificate. Requirements to be a judge include 5 ­ to 10 years snowboarding experience, a month of rigorous training, watching videos, reading manuals. Home study and clinics.

What events do you judge?
Slopestyle, rail jams, quarterpipe, halfpipe, and big air. In Boardercross there are no judges, just watching the gates to make sure riders go around them properly. That¹s a volunteer job which sometimes I do.

What is the rule if one misses a gate in Snowboardcross. Can you go back?
As long as you make the gate at some point, it¹s fine. If you don't you're DQ¹d (disqualified).

How are events judged - Amateur and pro, or lower level and advanced?
USASA is considered an amateur contest series, and we judge that differently than a pro event. We want to score riders by criteria that will help improve their contest careers.
At USASA we say at the riders meeting what we¹re judging on.

In USASA halfpipe for example, there are 4 judges, each assigned a criteria: amplitude, standard maneuvers, rotation, and overall impression. Scale of 1-10.
EG. Amplitude, riding to the top of the pipe is 5

For pro events, the riders don¹t need that feedback, and are judged by one standard of overall impression.

I judge a little differently than other judges because of my skateboard background. In halfpipe and slopestyle, I¹m looking for a resurgence of skateboard moves and style. [I look for] Backside lipslides if they¹re boned out and held longer, when they stay on the rail longer. I look for a run to be real clean and flowing, at the same speed. I don¹t like to see them slow up before the rails. Speed is your friend, it helps keep the run solid and fluid. And when it comes down to it, it¹s all about how you look.

Who's hot now?
Lucas Magoon, Scotty Arnold, KP, the entire Mitrani clan(Luke, Jack and Liza).
Trevor Andrew portrays an amazing skateboard style on the snow like no other.
Also, Peter Line, Mike Micahelchuk, Forest Bailey, Coleen Quigly, Tricia Byrnes, Louie Vito.

Ian Kurt,Stratton Mountain School's Scott Johnston, and Brent Johnston. Phoebe Mills was Danny Kass¹ coach. And she was the 1988 bronze medallist in gymnastics in the Olympics. She¹s a judge, on the committee. She might someday be the first US American Olympic Snowboard Judge. We don't have one yet.

Hot Amateurs?
Chris Maseresi, the Shaw Family (Brooke and Spencer), Ellery Hollingsworth, Molina Cera, and Eric Cera. Tyler Leach. And Eddie Wall Sr.

How do you dress when you are judging snowboard comps?
I always dress up to judge. ­ I wear dress shirts, nice sweaters. I dress up "casal nice" for judging, like for a date. I feel the way you look has a lot to do with the way you perform and act.

Do you get cold?
No! I¹m one of the few judges who sometimes doesn¹t wear a glove when I judge. I¹m naturally warm, and I dress right.

How many layers?
On a cold day, first layers, then 2 or 3 more.
I¹m also the only judge that drives 250 one way to many events.

Michael, thank you for us some insight into the life of a snowboard competition judge.

See Michael A Cohen's profile on

Flat-Spin 360’s

By Rob Pirog

Doing 360’s doesn’t have to be what you see in all the videos and magazines. This is a simple progression that will get you doing spins and having fun, without having to leave the ground!

All you need to be able to do is turn in both directions, keep your head and shoulders moving in one direction, and feel comfortable with changing your edges (toe to heel and vice-versa).

Before performing your first flat spin, you need to be comfortable with turning (forward) on your toes and heels.


ˆ Be sure to find a piece of hill that has enough pitch to slide at least at a slow pace, but not so steep where you have to tip your board up with a high edge angle.


ˆ Starting with your board across the hill (nose and tail oriented to either side of the trail) and on your toe edge, make one forward turn on to your heel edge. You should try to do this in the shortest time distance possible, and when you end that turn, the nose and tail of your board should be oriented back across the hill (opposite direction from what they were before) and you should be balancing on your heel edge.


ˆ Repeat the same process, turning off of your heels on to your toes, with your board oriented across the hill. You have just done two 180’s. It is also important (as a frame of reference) to remember that in doing those 180’s, it was the nose of your snowboard that turned down the hill. In the next steps, you will be experimenting with the nose of your board turning up the hill (or, for reference, the tail of your board will turn down the hill). In each 360, the nose of your board will turn down the hill and up the hill.


ˆ The next steps are where you must be sure you can make relatively quick and comfortable transitions from one edge to the next.


ˆ Starting on your toe edge again, with your board across the hill, make another forward turn, and stop with your board across the hill and standing on your heel edge. If you are a regular footed rider (left foot forward), that turn was counter-clockwise.


ˆ From that point, your are going to continue the counter-clockwise turn. You will need to turn your head and shoulders in that direction. It is also important to keep your weight evenly distributed on both legs and your stance stay centered over the center of your board.


ˆ In this turn, the nose of your board will turn up the hill and the tail of the board will turn down the hill. Once both are oriented across the hill again, you should find yourself standing on your toe edge again.


ˆ Congratulations: you just did your first 360!


ˆ To repeat this in a clockwise direction, start things off on your heel edge. Make a forward turn on to your toe edge, with the board back across the hill. Then, continue the clockwise rotation by turning your head and shoulders in that direction.


ˆ Remember to keep you weight centered and even, and don’t try to change edges unless the board is oriented into the fall line (straight up and down the hill).


ˆ Don’t worry if one direction seems easier to do than another. It’s perfectly natural for people to favor one direction over another. If you find yourself having some difficulty completing the spins, try flexing your knees and ankles a little more, as that will help with stability and edging.


ˆ As always, don’t forget to wear your protective gear, and have fun. We’ll see you on the hill!

Rob Pirog has been snowboarding for years and is the director of the Smugglers' Notch Snow Sport University.

Easy Progressions for Flatland Fun

by Rob Pirog

Snowboarding isn’t just about riding down the hill. It’s about riding down the hill and having as much fun as you possibly can. Here are some easy and fun freestyle moves, that you can take just about anywhere on the hill.

Static Nose/Tail Presses

Starting off on a flat piece of hill (where you can stand with your board flat without sliding away strap both feet in.

ˆ Stick your front hand out over the nose of your board.

ˆ Balance the majority of your weight over your front foot.

ˆ Keeping your front foot flat on the board, bend your front knee (while keeping your back leg straight), and see how low you can get yourself while remaining balanced.

ˆ Take your front hand, and grab the nose of your board. This helps provide support for the next step.

ˆ Slowly shift your weight out past the outside of your front foot, towards the nose of the board. If it hasn’t happened already, your back leg should be pulling the tail of the board off of the snow. This is a static nose manual.

ˆ If you are feeling comfortable and balanced over the nose of your board, try taking your hand off the nose and balancing without hanging on.

ˆ For the tail manual, repeat all of these steps using your back hand, leg and foot over the tail of your board.

ˆ Don’t be afraid to experiment with balancing on your toe or heel edge, bouncing around a little, or seeing how far out over the nose your tail you can get, as these will prepare you for taking this move out on to the hill

Turning Those Into Manuals (doing a press while moving)

ˆ Find yourself a piece of hill (usually on the flatter side of things, but not totally flat) where you feel comfortable balancing over the nose or tail.

ˆ Use the steps listed above. You can start these either with the board oriented across the hill, or down the hill.

ˆ If you start with the board across the hill, you will need to remember that you’ll have to balance on your uphill edge instead of with the base of the board flat in the snow. As soon as you make the movements for the press, your board will probably start moving on you. Whichever end is up in the air, will swing down the hill and into the fall line. Be brave and let this happen. Once the nose/tail points straight down the hill, you can let the base run flat. If you start to feel uncomfortable, just let go and stand up.

ˆ If you start with the nose or tail already down the hill, you should be moving. All the same movements apply, you’ll just be able to let the board run with its’ base flat in the snow, right from the start.

ˆ Eventually, you will become comfortable enough with these, that you can balance over the nose or tail, while riding, without holding on to the nose or tail with your hands.

Nose/Tail Rolls

ˆ While riding, you can use the balancing movements for manuals, combined with some board and body rotation, to roll over the nose or tail and change from forward to switch and vice-versa. You should be comfortable performing flat-spin 360’s before working on these.

ˆ Let’s take the nose roll as an example:

o Lean out over your front foot, as though you were going to do a nose manual.

o As you are moving into that lean, rotate your shoulders and back leg in the direction you wish to roll. (As you do this, be sure to keep your weight balanced on whichever edge remains uphill during the spin.) Start with 180 degrees of rotation, and then let the board go totally flat again.

o Don’t let the base of the board go totally flat until the nose/tail are oriented up/down the hill. Doing that will likely = fall-down-go-boom…and nobody wants that.

ˆ These moves can be rotated in either direction, over either the nose or the tail of the board. It’s just a matter of practice to get comfortable balancing and moving in all those ways.


ˆ Butters are basically half of a nose or tail roll. Rather than moving your shoulders and leg around for the full 180 degrees, start the spin and hold your movement once the board is oriented across the hill. (You might remember that position from starting manuals with your board across the hill.)

ˆ Whichever way you choose to butter, remember to keep yourself balanced on your uphill edge. If the base of the board goes flat while it is oriented across the hill, the downhill edge will catch, and once again…nobody wants that.

ˆ To recover from/complete this move, you can either let your suspended foot down and sideslip out, or you can pull the butter back from 90 degrees to 0, or do the full 180 roll.


As always, safety comes first. Practice these things on easy terrain and work your way up. Furthermore, protective gear is definitely recommended (if you’re not already wearing it)! Helmets, knee/elbow pads, wrist guards and impact shorts will help ease blows if you do fall, and offer piece of mind if you don’t.

Rob Pirog has been snowboarding for years and is the director of the Smugglers' Notch Snow Sport University.

Waxing Your Snowboard

"I wax my board everyday that I ride."
by Jeff Boos

tools needed:

all temp wax
heat gun/iron

Want to prolong the life of your snowboard? Have problems with speed? Like to ride rock, jibs and urban street style? Then listen up because waxing will help you out bigtime.

I wax with a universal all temperature wax from One Ball Jay wax company. Most people know of only waxing with an iron that cost hundreds of dollars. I use a heat gun that you can buy for about $20-$30. Check to make sure the heat gun has 2 setting high/low.

Now with your One Ball Jay all temp wax and heat gun on low (until you get use to using this method only use low setting) start warming up a small area on your base and applying the wax until the wax starts melting and you can lay a thin layer of wax on the entire base by moving the puck of wax around (hold the heat gun 2 1/2"-3 1/2" away from the base) melting the wax till it looks fluid like.

Let the wax set up until cool to touch. Now its time for scraping. Most anything will work for a scraper as long as it has a straight edge on it and won't destroy your base. Scrape as much of the wax off as possible as excess wax will slow you down. (the idea with waxing is that you want the wax to penetrate into the pores of your base)so the wax that's most useful to the board is in the base.

Now its time for a brushing. Use a scrub brush and polish the wax until it looks shiny. You are ready to hit the hill, have fun!

I wax my board everyday that I ride. For me it makes a huge differnce in my speed, and most of all protects my base when riding rock jibs,rails and urban street. So don't think that waxing is only for racers, waxing is for everyone and can be done by eveyone.

jeff boos


Magne-Traction from Lib Technologies
by Jeff Boos

Magne-traction from Lib Tech is the most innovative idea to be introduced to the snow industry in decades. Magne-traction refers to the edges on LTN snowboards, snowskates and N.A.S.(narrow ass snowboards) or as some call them skis! Magne-traction is 7 specialized bumps strategically sized and placed along each side of your sidecut. MT is from the mind of Steven Cobb technormous bro-knowlogist at Lib Tech.

MT has many advantages over the dull and ordinary edges of yesteryear, especially here in the "ICY" east coast. Some of the advantages of MT are better control, better edgehold, better turns, better jibbing, freestyle, less catchty/sensitive tip/tail and generally more responsive/easier to ride. One of the best things about MT is that the extra edgehold you get allows you to ride your board de-tuned for the park/rails and still make killer turns on the mountain.

Magne-traction on the contest scene just stepped up the game with LT ripper Travis Rice who has won on the Magne-traction, THE 2007 US OPEN slopestyle, 2006 x-trail in Japan, 2006 icer air, as well as Silver at the x -games 2007,and 2cd at the 2006 nokia air style in Germany. Other Magne-traction rippers include Sammy Luebke, Eric Jackson, Mark Landvik, Mike DeStasio, JamieLynn, Jeff Boos, Curtis Ciszek and more.

Magne-traction has been out for 3 years now and I have been on the Traction since its start, for me its the only choice. So what are you waiting for get out there and check out online and demand Magne-traction at your favorite local shop and choose to become part of the Magne-traction movement..Hey while your on the Lib Tech website check out the newest innnovation from the technormous bro-knowlogist called the Skate Banana..... Enjoy
jeff boos