On a sunny February Saturday, we caught up with ski pioneer Jason Levinthal for some Suntanner park laps to talk Stratton and snow industry park progression.
By: Jason Levinthal
Back in the early 1990’s growing up in Albany, NY, upon getting my driver’s license, Stratton instantly became my home mountain. At the time snowboarding was blowing up and Burton leading the charge located only 15 minutes away from the mountain. So it was an inspiring stop on the way there and when we got to the mountain, we’d see all the east coast snowboard pros shredding what was arguably one of the world’s best parks at the time. Crazy thing was, like all parks back then, it was referred to as a “Snowboard Park”. . . there was actually no skiers allowed!
Below pic of a sign seen at the entrance of all parks at the time.
Even myself a life-long skier, I switched to snowboarding! I could do so much more on a snowboard riding backwards, throwing tricks, carving and floating in pow unlike skis of the time, and ride in the park! Skis at the time were super skinny, straight, pointy tip, square tail, stiff, no sidecut, built only for racing and there were no other types of skis to choose from.
My own frustration with not being able to ski like I snowboard, lead me in 1995 to create one of the first twin tip skis in my parent’s garage. I wanted to do all of the same tricks as I did on my snowboard. Inspired by Jake Burton, I figured if he could start a snowboard company, why couldn’t I start a ski company and I named the ski company, “LINE”. I designed my skis to be half the length and width of a snowboard and the same twin tip geometry, sidecut.
Below is a pic of me airing a gap on my new “twin tip” skis in Stratton’s “Snowboard Park” in 1996. Snowboarders threw snowballs at me yelling “No skiers allowed! Get out of the park!!!” but I was determined, and never stopped skiing in the park.
Fast forward to today and after growing Line skis to become one of the most popular ski companies and recently starting my new ski company, Jskis.com, it’s amazing to see how far skis and park skiing has come. Even more mind blowing for me is to see how far terrain parks have progressed in size, creativity and diversity for every ability and every age skier and boarder. I now live in Burlington, Vermont and took a trip down to Stratton this past weekend. It was just as I remember it, although because I now need to show up to work on Monday without injuries, I wasn’t going quite as big, but still had a blast like the old days in one of my favorite parks on the east coast!