Construction continues at Nanook Terrain Park

Annie Bartholomew/ Sun Star Reporter 
February 5, 2013 

Nanook Terrain Park staff and  Facilities Services have been working for five months to become the first American university to host on-campus terrain park as a full time installation.

Through cold weather and creative use of equipment, Nanook Terrain Park is still set to open within its first year of construction. The Nanook Terrain Park staff never put a deadline on when the project would be completed, although there were  assertions that the park would open by the beginning of second semester by the administration, including Chancellor Brian Rogers in a student forum on Nov. 20, 2012.

“We got a little bit of a late start but everyone rallied and hustled to get the dirt-work done before the snow hit,” said Assistant Director of Facilities for the Department of Recreation, Adventure, and Wellness Erik Ofelt. Construction for Nanook Terrain Park officially began during the fall semester shaping the jump landings which are made partially out of dirt.

With help from Facilities Services, Nanook Terrain Park is now working to harvest enough snow to construct the take off areas of the jumps. The primary method of snow relocation has been using a Bobcat track loader to gather snow from the hill next to the jump areas and bring it to the jump takeoff sites.

“Facilities Services is doing us a huge favor with helping out with this,” Ofelt said, who is working to get jump dimensions within U.S. Terrain Park Council metrics including takeoff angle and landing area.  This process is timely because Bobcat track loader is not the traditional technology used for jump making. “Bob cats are designed for landscaping and very small projects,” Ofelt said. “This is out of the box use of this equipment.” Ofelt believes next year’s construction will go quicker with the purchase of rails and fencing already completed.

Since November, the Department of Recreation, Adventure and Wellness has hired seven student Terrain Park Supervisors according to Outdoor Facilities Manager Sam Braband. Terrain Park Supervisors, which make up the Park Crew, were selected not only for their skiing and snowboarding abilities, but also interpersonal skills and decision making. Terrain Park Crew members will be trained in emergency response procedures, park feature maintenance and monitoring.

UAF student and Park Crew member, Callison Whitehill had volunteered a Birch Hill Ski & Snowboard Area for five years before applying to work at Nanook Terrain Park. “I’ve known it’s been in the works for the last couple of years or so and I’ve always been a big park skier and snowboarder so I figured might as well do it on campus,” Whitehill said.  Since early January, Whitehill and other Park Crew members have been working alongside Braband and Ofelt to build the Yurt at the top of the hill, put up perimeter fencing around the park and began to groom the area using a snow machine.

“We are under a microscope,” said Director of Department of Recreation, Adventure, and Wellness Mark Oldmixon, who has been challenged with creating standard operating procedures according to Alaska state law and U.S. Terrain Park Council guidelines. With safety of park users in mind, the Nanook Terrain Park Standard Operations and Procedures Manual was conceived to address the concerns of Risk Management. The Manual which was drafted by Oldmixon, Ofelt and Braband gives a comprehensive overview of park procedures. Notable differences between Nanook Terrain Park and other recreational ski areas include the mandatory use of an appropriate helmet and the prohibition of inverted aerials. Park users are also required to watch the Smart Style video that overviews park etiquette before using the terrain park.

Though there is no set date for Nanook Terrain Park’s opening to the public, the Department of Recreation, Adventure, and Wellness has plans for a terrain park competition in March. Nanook Terrain Park is still waiting on rail features and boxes to arrive from their manufacturing company, but Park Crew members remain optimistic about the future of  Nanook Terrain Park.

“I like helping out in making jumps and rails and having people get excited.  So as long as people are excited I’m happy to do it,” Whitehill said.

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1 Response

  1. Andy says:

    So how do snowboarders / skiers get from the bottom to the top?

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