WORDS — Tom Wallisch
PHOTOS — Alex O’Brien
Without a doubt, Salt Lake City is one of the most popular locales for urban skiing. For decades, skiers have taken to the streets of Utah’s capital to session rails, walls and more—but what is so enticing about this place? Why do skiers steer their cars into the heart of SLC year-after-year? In my opinion, the city and its many parks offers some of the finest street skiing opportunities in the world thanks to consistent winter snowfall and plentiful hits scattered around the large metropolis.
Olympus Hills Park is one of the most famous locations in SLC and is home to the aptly named Rail Gardens. This park saw Tanner Hall in “WSki 106,” all the legends in Plehouse Films’ “Red Tape” and Will Wesson sliding anything and everything in countless Level 1 movies. Handrails of all shapes and sizes are the perfect ingredients for progression and the reason why skiers have been able to use the park as a hub for pushing the sport forward since the early 2000s.
Throughout the years, skiers have returned to grind nearly every feature in the park in unique ways—much like we see skaters hitting the same spots time and time-again. More recently, Rail Gardens has been featured in X Games Real Ski videos produced by Wesson, Khai Krepela and Clayton Vila, and has since been cemented as a proving ground for local Utah talent.
SKIER: Tim McChesney
Olympus Hills Park was also the location of many of skiing’s NBDs—or “Never Before Done” tricks. The first spins onto handrails, switch ups, backslides and underslides all happened there. The accessibility and ease of the features in the park make it an approachable first urban spot for any ability level, inviting top-level athletes and up-and-comers to make their mark.
For years, I would head over to Rail Gardens after the first snowfall of the year; it’s a perfect place to warm up for the season filming urban. I remember spending an entire day there once, grinding each feature in weird and unique ways, just completely goofing off, laughing and having a great time. My wife even sessioned one of the rails in the park with us. Everything about the location lends itself to fun and those sought-after crew vibes. As you session each rail you remember and talk about what’s been done: “Can you believe so-and-so did this? Or gapped to that?” What has happened in and around Olympus Hills Park is legendary—and only time will tell what comes next.