Superpark 17: Behind the Scenes

This week, Loon Mountain’s own terrain park crew is taking part in the Superbowl of snowboarding: Superpark 17.

Sponsored by Snowboarder Magazine, Superpark is an annual event in which the country’s best park crews build giant, otherworldly features for the planet’s top snowboarders. This year’s Superpark is taking place at Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, where more than 250 pro and semi-pro riders will spend the week launching lofty airs as more than 150 videographers, photographers, and journalists document their every move.

The Saddle Hip, brought to you by Loon Mountain.
The Saddle Hip, brought to you by Loon Mountain.

Just four park crews from across the country were invited to this year’s Superpark, where they’ve built some of the most mammoth, brobdingnagian park features ever shredded. Each crew was given an area on the mountain to build huge kickers, hip jumps, and landings that are simply ginormous – easily twice the size you’d find at your local mountain. This year, the park guys from Loon will try to out-build their doppelgangers from Seven Springs, Mt. Bachelor, Copper Mountain, and Boreal Mountain Resort.

Jay Scambio and Brian Norton are leading Loon’s four-man crew at Superpark, just as they have for the past four years. Jay works as the terrain park development manager at Boyne Resorts, while Brian is Loon’s terrain park manager. We recently asked Jay and Brian what it’s like to build larger-than-life features for some of the biggest athletes in the sport.

LOON MOUNTAIN: Superpark is a pretty big deal, huh?

BRIAN NORTON: It’s a huge deal. you get to go build features for the best riders in the world, is basically what it comes down to. Your stuff, if you build it well enough, is even going to end up on the cover shot or is going to be a full-page photo or article. It’s going to appear in countless video edits that summer.

It’s the biggest professional snowboarding event in the world. Bigger than the Olympics, bigger than FIS, bigger than the World Cup. It’s everyone.

LOON MOUNTAIN: Is it a big honor for Loon to be invited to Superpark?

BRIAN NORTON: This is year 17 of Superpark. I bet that there’s fewer than 20 teams that have ever done Superpark – fewer than 20 resorts. I would say maybe fewer than 15.

LOON MOUNTAIN: So you arrived at Mt. Bachelor on April 27, but the riders didn’t get there until May 6. What’s it like to spend that first week building huge features?

BRIAN NORTON: It’s not all fun and games for us. Don’t let anyone fool you. You spend seven days pushing all that snow and you’re beat, you’re absolutely destroyed from working 24 hours a day, but you’re totally looking forward to seeing people ride it. It keeps you going – at least for the first few days. After that, it’s time to go home.

JAY SCAMBIO: It’s a fun time. For us, it’s a long time.  Last year we were there for two weeks – three weekends – and we each worked 165 hours in that time period. I kept track. It’s just long. You’re basically running snow cats 24 hours a day for five or six days straight.

LOON MOUNTAIN: I heard that after Superpark 16, some of you had to get new snowboard boots. Why?

JAY SCAMBIO: You’re just throwing so much salt. I mean it’s that time of year when during the day out there it’s 60, 65 degrees and sunny. The snow’s wet so your boots by noontime are soaked, and then you’re throwing salt. I remember coming home some years – and depending what we use for a chemical – coming home and a week later just watching my fingers peel for days.

BRIAN NORTON: We threw over 100 bags of salt – two pallets of salt, easily – last year.

LOON MOUNTAIN: I just saw that Mt. Bachelor received more than 400 inches of snow this winter. What’s it like to build features in a place with that much snow?

BRIAN NORTON: I was there at night pushing snow for the landing of one jump – we call it a slot or a road you’re pushing snow down. The top of my snow cat was 10 feet below the snow level and it was all natural snow. I was in a 15-foot hole, easy.

I remember the first year we did it at Mammoth. Whatever you’re building, you’ve got a spot picked out. For us to build something here, you go uphill, you find the snowmaking pile, you push it downhill. When you’re out West, you just back into the nearest woods and pull it out of the woods onto the trail. The commute to get snow is so much shorter because there’s so much snow.

LOON MOUNTAIN: The jump you built at Superpark 16 was on the cover of the January 2013 issue of Snowboarder Magazine. You were standing next to Snowboarder Magazine Editor Pat Bridges when that happened, right? What was that like?

The cover shot.
The cover shot.

BRIAN NORTON: It was my birthday that day, so he’s like “Yeah, it’s your birthday, right? Congratulations, you just gave birth to a cover.”

JAY SCAMBIO: He was joking, but not. We’ve been involved in enough regular photo shoots to know when you’ve got a shot that where if it’s not the cover, it’s going to be a major featured photo. We all knew it, everybody knew it was going to be the case.

To see the best riders in the world hit Loon’s features, watch the Snowboarder Magazine webcast here this Tuesday, May 7 from 4:30-7:30 EST.

Broadcasting live with Ustream

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