Carinthia Turns Ten

In its first 10 years, Mount Snow’s Carinthia Parks has turned out some of the best freeskiers and riders on the planet. this year, there’s even more to celebrate. 

November, long before the natural snowpack builds, the guns are firehosing snow with enough force and volume to fill a football stadium. “Yeah, sometimes the Mount Snow dads get on my case about why we’re building this massive, massive snow pile at Carinthia,” says communications director Jamie Storrs. But, Storrs notes, thanks to the resort’s recent $30 million investment in snowmaking and 80-percent coverage, there’s no shortage of man-made white stuff to go around.

Within a week or so of opening, there they are: about 13 features—rails, tree trunks and bizarre shapes — a giant C, a red barn. A week or two later, there’s snow stacked so high and packed so hard you can air 40, 50, 60 feet and spin into inverted aerials.

A big-air training ground. Photo by Mike Dawsy

Soon, there’s a landscape of more than 200 features laid out across nine parks, served by two lifts, all part of what was once its own 100-acre ski area, and the East’s biggest three-ring circus for freeriders and freeskiers is in full swing.

And, new this year, it is all served by a new 42,000-square-foot base lodge with two bars and a view of the action—a “Happy 10th Birthday” present for Carinthia.

Ten years: 

In that time, Mount Snow has turned out some of the best freeskiers and riders the planet has ever seen. Kelly Clark, three-time Olympic medalist, was there before the park was even built. She was born in 1983, when Carinthia was still its own ski hill, separate from Mount Snow. But by the time she was riding a snowboard, it was part of the larger resort and by 1992, had a small terrain park, Un Blanco Gulch. In 2008-2009, all the terrain parks were moved to Carinthia and Un Blanco Gulch became simply, Gulch—an easier park, with progressively more difficult features leading up to the big, bad-ass Inferno.

Devin Logan was 13 when “Carinthia Parks” came to be. “I was a grom and for me freestyle still meant training on moguls, but I was learning how to slide rails and chase my brothers around the park,” recalls Logan, who has gone on to become the only halfpipe and slopestyle skier to win the overall Freestyle World Cup and one of the few top athletes who competes in two events.

Olympic medalist Devin Logan. Photo courtesy U.S. Ski + Snowboard.

“There was so much that Carinthia had to choose from—all these cool little trails and boxes and rails to slide,” Logan says. You can start at the grommet level on little boxes and then move up to the best. When I was little, Inferno scared me so much. My brothers and the boys dared me to do these huge jumps there. There’s a great feeling when you end up conquering something that scared you. When you do, you ask yourself ‘why did I not do that before?’”

The “boys” are her brothers Chris and Sean, Parker White, Ian Compton and others. At the time, Devin, Sean and Chris Logan were part of a posse of local kids skiing Mount Snow. Coaches such as Jesse Mallis and Bryan Knowles (both of whom did stints at Mount Snow Academy) egged them on. Devin’s mom, Nancy Logan had moved to Vermont after a divorce. “It was easier for her to just have all the kids doing the same thing so Devin just came skiing with us,” remembers her brother, Sean, who is 10 years older.

Devin went on to win silver at the Olympics in Sochi. Her brothers Chris and Sean founded The Big Picture, a film production company which followed the original posse in a series of web videos and movies that made them internet famous.

Rory Bruder welds a new feature for the park for this season. He’s helped make Carinthia’s features out of scrapped parts. Photo by Pat Ryan.

Today, they have moved out West and take the tricks they learned at Carinthia to the backcountry, front flipping over road gaps, jibbing tree tops, and hucking 720s off cliffs. “The skills we learned as kids– the awareness in the air, how to land – we still use those,” says Sean Logan, who works as a videographer. “The funny thing is all the guys I ski with now out West, are all the guys I grew up skiing with at Mount Snow, guys like Parker White and Duncan Adams.”

Ten years ago. That’s when Line Skis Traveling Circus started up, webisodes that have survived 10 seasons and have reached as many as 200,000 viewers.

A lanky, goofy kid with a smile as wide as a sunset, and teeth that earned

Caroline Claire made the 2018 Olympic slopestyle team and placed second in the first World Cup big air competition in 2018. Photo by Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski & Snowboard

him nicknames like “Chompers,” Ian Compton became part of the Circus and then went on to air his own series, The Weak.

“The first time I hit Carinthia I was just getting into skiing,” Compton remembers. He lived nearby and his mom had signed him up for the Mount Snow ski club. “It was so cool to see kids my age doing wild stuff. It felt like this endless universe with huge, gigantic toys.”

Compton quickly learned to ride rails, logs and whatever came his way. “The first day I skied with Parker White and Chris Logan I nutted a rail so hard and they give me a nickname. After that I knew I was friends with them and we were like brothers.”

At the time, Carinthia was one giant freedom zone, says Compton. “There’s a je ne sais quoi about skiing and it requires money to do it but at Carinthia, it could also be this rag tag young kid thing. We could do anything. They could light rails on fire, there…” Compton’s voice trails off. “Carinthia made freeskiing all about expression.”

Ten years ago..

…Jesse Mallis was coaching at Mount Snow. Mallis grew up skiing but didn’t start freeskiing until his junior year in college. He’d spent a year in Alta, then came back to Mount Snow. “Carinthia had a lot to do with my getting into freestyle,” he says. “Everybody likes to fight gravity and just learning how to do a back flip is a rush.” Mallis soon started coaching at Mount Snow Academy, helping Devin Logan and others.

Mallis is now Freeskiing Program Director at Stratton Mountain School. Five days a week, he loads students in a van to drive 30 minutes to Carinthia. “The park really caters to progression,” he says. “You can move from the easier features on Gulch into things that are a little harder on Nitro and then hit big stuff on Inferno.”

In 2018, Mallis was named Freeskiing Coach of the Year by U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Looking at some of the kids he’s been driving to Mount Snow each week, it’s easy to see why. Caroline Claire, 18, made it to the Olympics last February and graduated from Stratton Mountain School last May. In 2018, she also won her first World Cup, a slopestyle event in Seiseralm, Italy and took third at another in Mammoth Lakes, Ca. On Sept. 7, 2018, the Manchester, Vt., local scored a second at a big air World Cup in Cadrona, N.Z.

Levi Gunzburg slingshots through one of Prospector’s features. Mount Snow’s trail crew pick out cool trees, parts of old lifts and whatever they can to make some of the 200 features. Photo by Pat Ryan

Mac Forehand, 17, another of Mallis’s Stratton Mountain School posse has been on a tear since he was 13. On August 25, 2018, Forehand won the FIS World Junior Ski Championships in big air and two weeks later, took 13th in the first FIS World Cup big air event of the season.

With big air skiing becoming a part of the Olympics for 2022, both Claire and Forehand are positioned to be contenders, the next Devin Logan.

“It’s kind of funny now to go back to Mount Snow and see all these young kids—they are awesome,” says Devin Logan. “I remember being that young kid and looking up to the freeskiers on the Dew Tour and in the X Games and then wanting to go out and learn the tricks they did.”

And Nancy Logan, Devin’s mother, still works at the Mount Snow Training Center, watching all those new kids come through.  “That’s our demographic, the 18- to 29-year-olds,” says communications director Jamie Storrs. “That’s where the future of the sport lies.”

Rory Bruder test drives one of the features he created for Carinthia, a giant C. Photo by Pat Ryan

Ten years ago..

… Mount Snow was a stop on the first Winter Dew Tour, bringing the top freeriders and skiers to Southern Vermont and inspiring a new generation. “It costs a lot of money to host events like that,” says Storrs. “Instead, we decided to hold our own.” In the past few years, Mount Snow has hosted The Comp, the Carinthia Freeski Open and a season’s end bash.

“This year, we’re doing away with those two competitions and combining them into one for both skiers and riders, the Carinthia Classic, with a $20,000 prize purse, thanks to presenting sponsor, Monster Energy,” says Storrs.

But one thing will stay the same. On Memorial Day weekend, long after the snow has melted on the main mountain and the trails are bare, snow that the snow guns piled up for the halfpipe and the jumps will get spread thick across the mountain. And in front of the base lodge, the free-form, free-style, free-riding circus will go off in all its rail-riding glory for one last day of skiing and riding: the Peace Pipe Rail Jam. And it’s free. 

The new 42,000 square foot  lodge opens this fall.

 

Opener photo: A rider hits one of Carinthia’s  ramps. Photo by Mike Dawsy

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports. Loves skiing, riding, cycling and anything that can keep her outdoors, 356 days a year.

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