- 12ft high, 120ft long halfpipe on Big Ben coming early season
- Progression-forward features on Tyrolienne
- Medium-sized jump line on Beeline
- Park features changing weekly
Stratton’s freestyle history dates back to the 1988 US Open, where snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton decided it was finally time to implement a halfpipe at Stratton after watching western resorts like Sugar Bowl and Breckenridge reap the benefits of having one of these new and experimental freestyle features. From there, the freestyle roots only grew stronger. Year after year, Stratton would continue to boast the halfpipe phenomenon at countless events that would bring in thousands of freestyle riders from all over the world. By 1990, Stratton was known to have the finest halfpipe on the east coast. As the sport progressed, so did the features. Riders wanted to expand their palate; therefore, terrain parks began to pop up across the mountain with steel rails you could slide across and snow features you could fly off. It was paradise for freestyle riders and skiers alike.
Fast forward to September of 2022, temperatures are dropping as are the leaves, and we are stoked to announce that our new Terrain Park Supervisor has big plans for the upcoming winter season. We sat down with Toby Malandrinos and got the inside dig on what’s going down this year in Stratton Parks.
What is your position here at the resort and what does it involve?
I’m the Terrain Park Supervisor. My position involves the design and construction of terrain park features such as rails and jumps for both skiers and snowboarders. I like to make sure that all of my work is mathematically and creatively sound to ensure that everyone is progressing safely while still having a good time.
What brought you to Vermont?
In 2018 my wife and I got married in Massachusetts and while driving back to Virginia we noticed the temperatures were getting hotter and hotter and I was pretty much like “why are we going back down south?”. So, when we got back home, I started looking for jobs and emailed a couple of different resorts. I ended up getting picked up by Okemo and began working as a groomer there that winter and continued to work there for the 3 years that followed.
How did you get into park grooming and building?
I started at Okemo in a cat just doing free grooming, opening trails, doing pretty basic grooming stuff. A little bit into my first winter at Okemo I started doing some terrain park work with my best friend who was the lead park groomer at the time. From there on, I decided I wanted to keep on building cool stuff for freestyle riders and skiers to enjoy. I appreciate that Stratton has given me the opportunity to do just that.
What do you like about working at Stratton?
I really like the fact that they allow me to have creative freedom when it comes to grooming, while also making sure that I, along with the rest of the grooming team, are held accountable for the trails we are assigned to groom. They also allowed me to get right into the terrain parks helping with things like jump builds and maintaining lips and takeoffs.
What is your favorite style of terrain park building?
I like doing it all. Rails are fun, but they get to be redundant. I tend to really like snow features because I can get creative with the blade and how I move and place the snow. But again, it’s all fun.
What direction do you plan on taking Stratton Parks in this season?
My goal is to take our parks in a progressive direction this winter. Our resort is family oriented, and I want to make sure a lot of the features are in the tune of helping younger people, or newer people progress in the park without getting intimidated by the size of a rail or a jump. Aside from that, I am looking forward to keeping the parks fresh which will mean changing features up on a weekly basis. I feel as if this will keep riders and skiers on their toes and always interested in cruising through the parks to see what’s new. There will be big stuff as per usual in Big Ben, but parks like Tyro will incorporate more of these smaller, progression features that will cater to the person looking to build their skills up before hitting the 40ft booter. I am really looking forward to having a space where people who are young or new to the sport can come and home in on their freestyle fundamentals without feeling like they aren’t welcomed or skilled enough to be there.
Can we expect anything new this year when it comes to park placements and features?
Beeline will be coming back as a terrain park; it’s actually going to be a jump line with about 3-4 small-medium sized jumps. I think this will mend well with the idea and goal of “progression” this season and will ultimately allow people to get comfortable with airtime before moving to the big jumps in Big Ben. East Byrnes Side is set to have a mix of banked slalom and terrain features which will change throughout the season. My goal is to have rails and jumps in East Byrnes Side when there isn’t a banked slalom course setup. I am looking to implement a “natural” section in Big Ben this year with some lumber jibs and natural drops. On the left side of Big Ben about halfway down, we will be building a 12ft high, 120ft long halfpipe. It’ll be inviting, it’ll be playful, it’s not going to be huge, it’s something that everybody can get in and see how it is. Being that Stratton was the place to ride the pipe in the past, it feels good to be getting back to our roots.
Any final thoughts?
I think I just want to let everyone know how excited I am to be at the helm of the parks this season. There are lots of cool and new things coming and I can’t wait for all of you to enjoy them. Keep an eye out on social media for park updates and info over the next few months.
It was great being able to sit down with Toby and pick his brain a bit on what’s to come in the future for Stratton Parks. His enthusiasm in pertinence to his plans for the season was nothing short of genuine and we cannot wait to see what he has in store for all of you this winter. Keep an eye out on @strattonparks and @strattonresort Instagram pages for the most updated info. Winter is coming.
Learn more about Stratton’s freestyle and halfpipe history.
Published on September 6, 2023 by Harley Smith