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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: December 14, 12:25 PM ET
Park building monopoly


The SPT-designed pipe at Winter X Games Europe.

For the past 15 years, Snow Park Technologies has been at the forefront of the terrain park building business. And now, it seems that business is rapidly expanding. SPT now designs parks at 15 major resorts nationwide and they recently signed on to build parks at Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and others over the last several months.

They're also hoping to expand the market of the number of skiers and snowboarders using terrain parks. "We are working on growing the freestyle market as a whole through improving retention rates by working with partners on terrain education programs for teaching new riders," said Genevieve Gunnarson, the company vice president. "We are also working with the National Ski Areas Association on improvements in terrain park safety and efforts to minimize resort exposure and liability."

While it's not yet commonplace for resorts to subcontract their parks -- a majority of ski areas still build their parks themselves -- those who have are "really putting a solid backing into their park programs, receiving recognition, accolades, and attention through media and industry polls," said Gunnarson.

The 15 resorts that SPT works with include Colorado's Aspen, Vail, Copper Mountain and Keystone, New Jersey's Mountain Creek, Pennsylvania's Seven Springs, Idaho's Sun Valley, and California's Sierra-at-Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Snow Summit and others.

Chris "Gunny" Gunnarson and Mike Binnell founded SPT in 1997 in Big Bear Lake, Calif., as "a response to a growing demand for professional expertise within the world of terrain parks and events," says Gunnarson.

Since then, SPT has established a monopoly by building parks for many major ski resorts, contests -- including Winter X Games, Dew Tour, and others -- and film and photo shoots for a growing list of clients that includes Burton, Red Bull and Nike.

SPT has been behind some of the most progressive park features in the last few years: the Simon Dumont cube pipe at Squaw Valley, the Burton B at Northstar, and the Shaun White Project X private training pipe and foam pit in the Silverton, Colo. backcountry.

"In the old days there was a competition among resorts for bragging rights as to who built the biggest/baddest parks," Gunnarson says. "Today, our aim is for terrain parks to create a user experience that is reflective of a resort's brand and identity, and delivers quality and consistency at all different skill levels of freestyle riding and skiing."