But it's Mammoth's plans for 2011 that really caught our attention. For the last decade, California's Mammoth Mountain has been known for its progressive and ever-expanding terrain parks. This winter, the resort will continue to up its game with the addition of two full-time landing pads and the return of Josh Chauvet, who started his new job as Mammoth's action sports brand manager on October 4.
Chauvet returns to Mammoth after an eight-year hiatus -- he worked as the resort's terrain parks manager from 1998 to 2002, when he helped launch the ski area's now well-known Unbound Terrain Parks. He went on to work for Snow Park Technologies, the firm that designs and builds courses for the Winter X Games, the U.S. Open, the Burton European Open and other events. Chauvet also worked as the marketing manager for Nikita Clothing and the action sports manager for southern California's Mountain High Resort.
"It's a great opportunity," Chauvet says. "Mammoth has come a long way -- there's a lot more happening here than when I lived here last. And there's more infrastructure on the mountain. But the resort is ready to kick things up a notch and bring in some new, innovative things."
One of those new innovations, Chauvet told ESPN, is the recent purchase of two landing pads, which cushion the landing of a jump to help reduce injuries, bring more people into the sport and let pros try tough maneuvers with less risk. Several resorts have hosted demo exhibitions of landing pads (including Mammoth last May) but Mammoth is the first resort in the country to install them permanently. "The air bags will be part of a new (an as of now unnamed) 'progression park' that will include some coaching and other learning components as well as the air bags," says Mammoth public relations manager Dan Hansen. "There will be a fee for use of this special park."
"The landing pads are part of a whole new program we're developing to help people get into the park, to get them more comfortable jumping and riding rails," Chauvet says. "One of the big issues I've seen in the industry is that the people who are pros now grew up while the progression of parks was happening. So now everything's big and crazy and how do kids learn?"
Chauvet says they're also going to increase their offering of terrain parks and incorporate a film element.
As for the future of freestyle skiing and snowboarding, Chauvet says he thinks the younger generation is hungry enough that the landscape of the sport may change quicker than we think. "We have these 15-year old-kids with decent air skills and they're going to learn some crazy tricks," he says. "It's going to progress the sport really fast."