Boarders to create all-freestyle park | SierraSun.com

Boarders to create all-freestyle park

Jon Beckhardt
Sierra Sun

What did four Tahoe area snowboarders do when given the dream chance to create their own resort? They made ambitious plans to build a 255-acre freestyle park.

The proposed Kingvale Terrain Project, to open November of 2006, will devote its slopes exclusively to rails, tabletops, pipes and boxes ” all things most resorts relegate to secluded sections of the mountain.-

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The mountain, which currently offers sledding and guided snowmobile tours under the name Kingvale Tubing Center, will have a lift put in over the summer to open some 80 acres for riding next season, said Day Franzen, one of the four snowboarders heading the project. Eventually, the snowboarders hope to open all 255 acres. Until that time, Franzen said, the resort will offer three parks, with a 500 feet of vertical drop.

Placer County approval for the group’s plans is still pending, but Franzen thinks that will not be an obstacle.-

The mountain is located off Interstate 80 about 18 miles west of Truckee, at the sight of the old Plavada ski resort, which closed down in the 1970s.

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“When I saw the terrain at the resort, I knew it would be absolutely perfect,” Franzen said.

Mark Sullivan, publicist for the group and publisher of Snowboard Magazine, explained that creating a park-resort was a way to optimize the hill’s features. The intermediate-level terrain offers the perfect undulation and incline for creating a wholly park resort, he said. “We’re just maximizing what’s available.”

Franzen’s partners include Corey Ayer, Jason Rydd and Shawn Durst. Durst is on Heavenly’s professional snowboarding team.-

Franzen ” for whom owning a resort built with snowboarders in mind has been a lifelong dream ” is the founder of Railbuilders, a pioneering rail-construction company in South Lake Tahoe.

Because of his experience building the park features, Franzen said, “Our rails will be a step above what others offer.”

Industry analyst Jeff Harbaugh thinks that the timing may be perfect for such a venture.

“This is a great idea,” Harbaugh said. “Snowboarding and freestyle riding keep getting bigger and bigger … What’s going to be really important is the location and the demographic.”

While Sullivan could not give any specifics on how the company would reach out to its targeted 12- to 35-year-old customer base, everything about the mountain’s location shows promise.

In addition to the long season and high altitudes that bless Tahoe resorts, the Kingvale Terrain Project’s spot on Interstate 80 might make it easy for the resort to lure out-of-towners off of the freeway. As Franzen boasted to the Sacramento Bee, “It’s the first snow exit coming out of Sacramento.”

Sullivan said that snowboarder-owned does not mean skier-excluded. He emphasized that freestyle skiers will be able to get just as much out of the mountain as anyone else.

“The project is pretty ambitious but it’s well-funded,” said Sullivan. “We have the backing of many in the snowboard industry.”

Matix Clothing and DVS Shoe Co. are two companies named to be on board with the project.