New direction is ahead for Squaw Valley’s jibbin’ terrain
Tom Richards has made a life out of sending skiers and snowboarders airborne.
Expertise in molding snow into daunting jumps, halfpipes and rails has landed Richards this winter at Squaw Valley USA, where he will debut as the resort’s first terrain park manager in its 56-year history.
While Squaw Valley’s 4,000 skiable acres could be considered a natural terrain park, features of the man-made variety have drawn more and more skiers and riders, particularly in the spring.
Jibbers and huckers can look forward to a smoother park layout in the season to come. A tree-ride is already in the works, and the 30-foot stair-set built for the Thanksjibbin’ Rail Jam will remain on the mountain all season.
Next winter Richards hopes to debut a new superpipe in the Riviera.
“My first goal is to get what we have [to be] a consistent and a quality product,” he said. “And maybe down the road there’ll be room for growth.”
Richards is known in the ski industry for his work at Heavenly Mountain Resort, which included the creation four years ago of the South Shore Soldiers Snowboard Camp.
His work at Heavenly drew praise from his peers.
“Tom Richards is one of the great unsung heroes of park building and is going to bring Squaw’s park into the future,” said Day Franzen, rail builder for Fall Line, in a release.
Richards said he is happy to work for a resort he feels was at the forefront of the boom of terrain park skiing and riding in the 1990s.
“Squaw made terrain parks the standard ” Squaw was the reason people started cutting half pipes,” said Richards in a news release. “I have faith that we can reclaim that influencer of status.”
Meanwhile, resort officials said they feel as if they’ve found someone to implement their goals for jumps and jibs.
“We trust Tom,” said Savannah Cowley, Squaw Valley public relations. “When it comes to terrain parks at Squaw, he understands where we’re coming from and where we want to be.”
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