PORTABLE TERRAIN PARK FEATURE –
AN AID TO BEGINNING TERRAIN PARK
Certified Level 2 AASI, Level 3 PSIA-Alpine
Wilmot Ski School
Rails and fun boxes are common terrain park features found
throughout most ski/snowboard areas. Many of these features
require a degree of riding skill in order to successfully execute a
move on the feature. The challenge with teaching such maneuvers
is setting up a teaching progression that brings the student along in
small enough steps to avoid turnoffs from crashes, and sets up the
student for success. The use of a portable terrain park feature at
Wilmot Mountain, WI has helped many beginning terrain park
students master basic skills for riding rails and fun boxes. Figure 1
shows the instructor holding the portable device in preparation for
an introductory class on riding the terrain park. The feature is
constructed of grey PVC pipe, which is carried in 2 sections for
ease of transport.
The unit is bolted together and placed on the snow with the snow
anchors facing down to engage the snow. Figure 2 shows the
instructor demonstrating how to perform a 50/50 slide on the
portable rail, which is about 10 feet long. The device is only used
in classes and in a location (with a 3-10 degree slope) out of the
heavy traffic lanes. The device should be placed down the fall line
since off fall line positions will result in sliding to one side. Rails
and fun boxes require a standard reference stance (Figure 2) and an
ability to line up the body with the long axis of the feature. The
purpose of the portable feature is to help students learn to line up
properly for such a feature and get the feeling of sliding over a
surface other than snow.
For the beginning terrain park rider, a nearly static run across the
rail can be helpful. Figure 3 shows the instructor holding the
student by the hands in order to obtain the proper stance and line
up. Next, let the student try a 50/50 themselves, as shown in
Figure 4. Let them walk up about 20 to 30 feet above the feature,
have them buckle in and try it out. Usually, the first try will result
in a variety of outcomes. Some will totally miss the feature
(Figure 4), but will still experience the benefit of lining up
alongside it. Some will get a part of it, as shown in Figure 5.
Remind the students to look toward and point their leading hand at
the end of the rail for a good line up.
With additional practice, the outcomes of Figures 6 and 7 are
achieved. Most students are thrilled with being able to ride 50/50
along the total length of the feature. They also learn that
attempting to correct a bad line while on the feature will usually be
unsuccessful. As with most surface features such as fun boxes and
rails, attempting to steer or edge will usually not correct a bad
entry and may result in a fall. Falling while learning does occur
and the consequences are minimal since the portable feature is on
the snow, as shown in Figure 8.
After several practice runs performing a 50/50 on the portable
terrain park feature, the student is now ready for the terrain park.
Figure 9 shows a student who successfully rode the fun box on the
first try and was truly delighted to be part of the terrain park scene.
It does not take long before students try boardslides, which also
work well on the portable device, as shown in Figure 10. Figure 11
shows the instructor assisting a student’s stance for the boardslide,
emphasizing keeping the knees over the toes and proper flexion.
The following is a teaching progression that can be used with the
portable terrain park feature:
1. Set up the rail on a 3-10 degree slope with the rail pointing
directly down the fall line. If students tend to slide off one
side more than the other, then adjust the rail more down the
2. Perform a static exercise by having the student mount the
rail in the 50/50 position with the instructor holding hands
as shown in Figure 3.
3. After everyone is comfortable with the stance, let each
student ride and mount the rail dynamically, performing a
4. The class circulates from the bottom of the rail to the top
for another try while the instructor performs movement
analysis with individual students to help improve
5. When students can perform a 50/50 along the whole rail,
they are ready for the easy fun box in the terrain park.
6. Some students may also want to practice boardslides
(Figures 10 & 11). A static exercise is helpful where the
instructor emphasizes keeping the knees over the toes for a
good boardslide stance, with the knees and ankles flexed.
7. Head for the terrain park.
The portable terrain park feature is an excellent teaching aid for
introducing beginning terrain park riders to typical terrain park
features such as rails and fun boxes. The portable terrain park
feature gives the instructor more flexibility in teaching riders
without interrupting the flow of the terrain park. Riding the
portable feature is less intimidating since a fall is of little
consequence. This teaching aid will help set up the student for a
successful first pass through the terrain park.
1. Patent pending.