Buttered Toast

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Buttered Toast

FREESKIER’s jib squadron spread it on thick for the 2019 Park Ski Test at Winter Park Resort

At Winter Park Resort, located 65 miles west of Denver, Colorado, the terrain park team uses computer-generated technology to architect the ski area’s seven designated freestyle zones and single, massive 18-foot superpipe. It’s the same planning process the most ambitious feature-shapers are using elsewhere—think X Games slopestyle courses and Level 1 Productions movie shoots—but at this Front Range gem, it’s all conceived and built by a small-scale team of dedicated freeskiers. 

Operated by staff riders with the same passion for the sport as visitors lapping the park, Dark Territory—featuring the biggest, baddest rail garden and jump line at the resort—was a no-brainer to host FREESKIER’s Park Ski Test. When we arrived in mid-April, the snow was cold and fast in the morning, ideal for pushing the speedometer, checking how well each ski held an edge and launching enormous tricks off of perfectly manicured jumps. In the afternoon, with just enough sun poking through the clouds, the snow softened up to a nice serving of creamed corn, enabling testers to slather on butters, perfect their hand-plants and jib till kingdom come. In short, we were gifted with both mid-winter and spring in one day—allowing our testers to get a feel for each freestyle ski in the full spectrum of conditions they’re built to thrive in.

SKIER: Parks Thomson | PHOTO: Rachel Bock
SKIER: Cory Govoni | PHOTO: Rachel Bock

Our testing platoon brought a range of experience and each of them had their own particular style. Some were freestyle coaches with technical skills worthy of passing on to the next generation, others had a flowier, new school attitude when riding Winter Park’s features and the rest fell somewhere in-between. Balancing the athleticism it takes to complete top-level tricks with the mindfulness necessary to consider how each ski reacts to flexing, greasing and taking flight, the group showed the same thoughtfulness and concentration that you’d see with a cackle of winch-hounds getting towed into a back-alley wall ride to get the shot.

SKIER: Parks Thomson | PHOTO: Rachel Bock

Bottom line: The skis that arrived at the FREESKIER offices prior to the test took on a whole new look at the Park Ski Test. Like any bona fide reader of this magazine would, our testers took stones to the edges and smoothed out the ride. Their subtle tinkering allowed them to show no mercy as they hit Winter Park’s biggest booters and longest, kinkiest rails, thrashing and bashing each pair enough to get a proper feel for how they performed in an array of freestyle scenarios. Basically, FREESKIER’s park testers did exactly what you’re going to do to your new skis; moreover, every one of the testers provided insight about each ski immediately following every run, observations featured on the following pages that reveal the true character of this year’s top park skis.

Head over to the 2020 Online Buyer’s Guide to find out how each ski performed. Our comprehensive reviews and tester commentary are designed to guide your decision-making process and make your next winter lapping the park the best one yet.

Explore the 2020 FREESKIER Buyer’s Guide