Park Pow and Hot Laps: Steeze in the Sun at the Stevens Pass Top Phlight

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Item: Stevens 1/16/14
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I’m going to be honest here. It’s not something we usually say in the Pacific Northwest, but this winter has been a dubious one. The snow has been B-grade at best, when it’s snowed at all. The one blessing is that 33-degree hot pow makes for long-lasting base material. The downside? It often comes with rain, which does its damndest to devour the soggy, slow-stacking Cascade Concrete that has fallen. Not a good combo.

But, in another rarity for the PNW, we’ve had an abundance of sun—not the warm, slush-inducing balm of March-time Mammoth or Hood, but enough for goggle tans and sunny groomer days. And whatever the conditions, sometimes a skier’s just gotta get his fix, and so when the forecast called for clear skies and 40-plus temps, a crew of us Bakerites decided to head south, to Stevens Pass’s Top Phlight terrain park, to send some jumps and shred some groomers. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Plus, park skiing, it turns out, is fun as hell.

Seeing as I have spent the past month and a half plagued with a separated shoulder (a first-run of opening day injury), I was on a no-jumping status. And, seeing as most folks from Baker are pow-hounds that haven’t skied park lines in years, we knew it was going to be fun even if we were just popping rollers—we also knew style would be…loose…at best. Still, there was air time to be had and rails to be slid, so the capable members of our group were in for an interesting time.

As usual at Stevens, the management and staff were friendly and accommodating, and the park crew had obviously spent their down-time wisely—the jumps, from the mini-shred zone up top to the triple-set waterfall line that dominates the main run under Kehr’s chair, were dialed to 11. Spinal Tap would be proud.

With folks feeling rusty, the day started off with the obvious choice of tricks: old school is always the best default, and the lineup included daffies, twisters, spreads and twister-twister spreads. And backscrathers. Lots and lots of backscratchers.

Meanwhile, the local riders, whether filming or riding with homies or shredding solo to Wu Tang, repped their home mountain with style. Park skiing is fun to watch (even more so when you’re actually good at it) and so while we may have been killing it on the backscratch scene, the regulars made up for our lack variety by putting on a show for anyone lucky enough to be watching. Whether corking out 720s or throwing giant Cossacks, good times were obviously had by all.

For us usually powder-blessed PNWers, June-uary has been a not-so-fun lesson in making the best of the bad…and maybe a lesson in humility as well. But for those six or seven hours at Stevens, we found a different type of fun—park pow, and in a season starved for the real thing it was a salve on a smarting wound. And from a place where jump lines and tall-Tees are too often disregarded, it gave us a little more respect for—and bonding with—our twin-tipped, skinny-skied brethren. The deep days may be what makes skiing epic, but it’s the hot lap mini-shred days with friends that makes skiing fun. Powder may not be on the horizon, but another day at Stevens definitely is.

I mean, you gotta get that fix somehow.


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