Sun Valley Resort held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday to mark the opening of its new one-acre Prospector Park on Dollar Mountain.
Sun Valley ski instructor Aaron Fabish said the terrain-based teaching area will allow beginner skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to accelerate the learning process.
“These new features here will do the teaching for us,” Fabish said. “We’re basically using the terrain to aid people learning. It will help every student progress faster because we’ve put in natural movements that a flat slope cannot mimic.”
Prospector Park will feature a mini pipe, a bank turning system that Fabish said will work skiers from a wedge to parallel position and rollers that will initiate up and down movements.
In preparation for the new park, snow sports director Tony Parkhill said that a dynamic curriculum has been developed to allow new skiers and boarders to learn more quickly.
“This enhanced terrain option gives people a great way to move forward learning here,” Parkhill said. “We went through the integration of our curriculum here, so it’s like a school but what we’re doing is integrating it into our classic, traditional kind of curriculum here, so this is a fundamental part of taking people through the progression of going from here to Baldy.”
Parkhill said he is particularly excited about the opening of Prospector Park because of how people will rapidly gain confidence on the mountain in a mellow atmosphere.
“After your first day here, you won’t be a beginner anymore.”
Sun Valley snow sports director
“After your first day here, you won’t be a beginner anymore,” Parkhill said. “The idea is that in the first half of the day, the average 4- to 6-year-old is skiing down the run here. After that they are developing the skills to go higher on the mountain, and then develop the skills to go higher on the mountain, then to develop the skills to go on Baldy, so this is that piece in the progression that’s so important.”
During the ceremony, the vast majority of those in attendance were elementary-age children ready to make the first official run down the new terrain. However, Fabish insists Prospector Park is a place where beginner skiers and boarders of all ages are encouraged to try.
“The kids will use it more, but we’ll teach anyone who comes into it,” he said. “It’s not designed exclusively for the kids. It’s designed to be the complete guest experience, and will definitely take our teaching program to the next level.”
Ski instructor Shannon Price concurred.
“This will take away a lot of the fear, because it is a lot slower,” Price said. “People who are new at this often have a fear of going too fast, so the bank turn system will slow your skis and slow you down at the same time.”
Parkhill also said he’s excited for the future of Dollar Mountain, as Prospector Park proved itself to be an effective teaching site during its “soft opening” for novice skiers and boarders.
“We do have adults that are coming back to skiing, or have been challenged by injury,” Parkhill said. “They need to come back to enhanced terrain, and this is the place to do it. This is not intimidating at all, as it’s a welcoming and engaging environment.”
Eric Avissar: firstname.lastname@example.org