Snow Summit Ski to Bike Preparations
14 Apr 2014
Spring is here and if you are lucky enough to live close to one of the ski resorts that received very little snowfall this year, the snow is melting fast! This is great news for mountain bikers as Ski resorts in the southwest are beginning to set their sights on the transition from ski to bike. When we found out that Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake, CA was only two weeks away from turning on their chairlifts for bikes, we could not sit still and wait for it to happen. So, we packed up our rig and made the trek over to one of our favorite bike parks in the US. Snow Summit is cool and awesome because they have quality trails, tons of activities for the whole family and all the amenities of a big city, while maintaining a small town vibe. You won’t find Gucci or Prada, but you will find plenty of TLD, Fox and Royal on the slopes. Riders might not arrive at the park driving Mercedes or Porsche, but they will be seen flying down the trails on Demos, V10s, and 951s.
Knowing that we were going to have the opportunity to lay down first tracks at Snow Summit Bike Park, it’s a wonder that any of us slept the night before. It brings back childhood memories of going to Disney for the first time.
When we arrived at Snow Summit we had the pleasure of meeting Suzie Jacques. She is the Industry Liaison for Snow Summit and our personal guide while we were there. We also had the opportunity to meet Chris Riddle, VP of marketing who welcomed us for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Snow Summit’s transition-work in preparation for their upcoming summer bike park opening day. He was eager for us to meet the trail crew and see just what it takes to make that flip.
We heard that most of the trail crew was hard at work on their advanced trail called Miracle Mile. Our plan was to catch a ride on one of the parks pickup trucks to the top of the mountain and cruise down Miracle Mile to catch up with the trail crew and see what they were up to. We found the crew about a quarter of the way down shoveling snow out of a berm that actually held up very nicely underneath all that snow. We got to meet and talk with quite a few of the guys on the crew, and we learned a lot! One of the big things that we learned about was the infrastructure that can exist under the ground at many resorts like Snow Summit. The trail crew have to be absolutely sure of the exact underground location of water pipes and electrical lines that run up and down the slopes so they won’t be digging down too deep with the potential for serious negative consequences if they were to snap a line. This underground infrastructure can really dictate how a trail is built and where it can travel across the ski slopes. We learned that often times trails are dug into the ground so when winter comes they don’t have to flatten out the trails but just have to dig out the snow once spring rolls around.
We at WorldBikeParks have done a fair bit of trail building in the woods over the years. So, we’re not total newbies when it comes to wielding a pick & shovel and creating ride-able art. However, we know how hard it can be to create a perfectly sculpted berm with just the right arc, steepness, and angles. The trail-crew at Snow Summit has berm-creation down to a science. “Steeper-the-better” Worm says, which allows for a high entry point to carry speed down to the apex and shoot out of the berm back on to the single-track. And, let me tell you, Worm knows dirt and berms! Best of all, Snow Summit has one of the, if not the most, extensive snow making capabilities at any ski resort in the country. This allows them to keep their trails moist in the summer and in great condition, especially the sensitive berms.
It was great to get see the knowledge and commitment of Snow Summits trail crew and staff. They are excited to add a new “green-beginner” trail this year. The Westridge trail gets a new re-route along with many more awesome new features to be added to their existing trails. It’s shaping up to be a long and fruitful summer riding season at Snow Summit with their official opening date set for April 18th, and their first annual summer kick-off party to going down on April 19th featuring dozens of big name mountain bike industry vendors, DJ spinning tunes at the base, and a raffle with huge prizes to be given away. Snow Summit will be the first lift-served mountain bike park in North America to open its slopes for business in 2014!