Archives for category: Shreds

Last weekend, during a trip to visit one of my best friends in Minneapolis, Minn., we decided to hit up Hyland Hills for their $15 Sunday night special.  I was apprehensive about visiting the tiny hill on such a cheap night.  One of my snowboard friends also warned me against it, saying the hill would be crawling with park rats and a huge rut would follow every feature in the park.  He was wrong.  The hill was crowded, but no more out-of-control than any other Midwest hill with a park.

Hyland holds two parks, both accessible via separate chairlifts and separate rope tows that yank you up the hill at lightning speed (Seriously.  I was laughing so hard during my first trip up the rope. we. were. flying).  And though the hill is tiny, a whole 175 vertical feet, you could see downtown Minneapolis/ St. Paul from the “peak,” which is a perk!

Ironically, on my trip back to Winona, Minn., the next morning I was paging through this month’s Freeskier and found an article about Hyland Hills.

With their new publicity my friend could be right about the crowds and ruts, but for the time-being Hyland was legit and well-worth $15 on a Sunday night.

Though my BFF and I did get a little bored on the mild night and decided to switch skis for snowboards, which was an ultimate failed attempt on my part, but so fun and so safe with such minimal elevation!


Running the slopes after hours | Winona360.

Why do I love journalism so much?  Because I love writing and I love opportunities and I love being able to apply both of these loves towards something that I absolutely love– skiing.  I wanted to tell the story of a ski hill after hours for a while and was shocked when the lovely folks at Mt. La Crosse in La Crosse, Wis., allowed my idea to actually happen.  Check out the story about a ski hill without skiers on and learn to look at your hill differently. (My fabulous Photo J friend Danielle Topka is responsible for the wonderful images that I am completely incapable of capturing!)

With one hard-snow-packed run totaling less than 300 vertical feet, it’s comical that the crowds gliding down the fake snow have been anticipating this unbecoming day for months.

Unlike the mountains of the west, the ski hills in the Midwest do not turn opening weekend into a front page affair.  Most Midwestern hills make their season debut mid-November with one, hike-only run, covered in icy, man-made snow, and littered with miscellaneous park features, and generally only the loyal park rats make it out for the first few open days.  They come in groups, mostly fitted in trendy tight snow pants, coordinating jackets and oversized goggles or sunglasses.  They lug their skis and poles up the couple dozen vertical feet only to take a quick ride down, hit a few features, and avoid the other rats doing the same thing.

Due to lack of elevation and wintery precipitation, the Midwest early season is not determined by total snowfall, but instead by freezing temperatures.  To manufacture snow, resorts need water and cold weather; snow guns are instantly fired up when these two factors are present.  The guns propel fake flakes onto the brown grassy hills. “Our business is very tied to the weather, we’ve had a few cold stretches during November and we’ve taken advantage of them,” said Don McKay, general manager of south-central Wisconsin’s Tyrol Basin Ski and Snowboard Area.

Colin Droster of Madison, Wis. has been anticipating opening days for about eight years and doesn’t mind the faux snow, “it’s better than nothing, plus who can tell the difference after a (snow cat) has groomed it.”

Tyrol tends to be the first Midwest hill to fill a run with snow and park features.  Although McKay says their target-opening day is always the day after Thanksgiving, Tyrol often opens a hike-only run in late October.  This year they opened for the season Nov. 2, “which is pretty early,” said McKay.  From the first Tuesday in November on, Tyrol has sporadically opened their single run and added a run serviced by chairlift, allowing them to open for the season the Friday after Thanksgiving, “prior to the lift being open it was super crowded,” said Droster.  In regard to Tyrol’s ability to fill a few runs with snow and remain open this year, “I’d say things are a little bit better than on track,” said McKay.

This early season, Tyrol was able to build a jump with an eight-foot gap in addition to setting up the usual rails and boxes, “it was radical, first time that I can recall they had a half decent jump set up this early,” said Droster.

Riders flock to make the first tracks of the season at Tyrol Basin from as far south as Chicago, Ill.   Tyrol’s attendance throughout the first few open weeks is “not record breaking, but pretty busy,” said McKay. Stan Evans

Bloomington, Minnesota-native Keri Herman grew up and lived in the same city as the Mall of America.  After graduating highschool, Keri moved on to bigger and better places and attended college at the University of Denver.  Since journeying west, Keri has gone pro and competed in numerous events including the Dew Tour, the European Open, the Aspen Open, and the X Games where, this year, she took home silver in slopestyle.  I had the chance to send Keri (who now calls Breckenridge home) some questions about her time in the Midwest and beyond, here’s what she had to say…

What did you enjoy most about growing up in Minnesota?
I loved how nice and friendly everybody is, and that there’s always something to do if you’re bored. No matter what you can always find somebody to go outside to play.

Where was your local ski hill? Which Midwest hill was your favorite?
Hyland Hills is the best! I skied there over Christmas last year, and it was SO much fun! I like Buck a lot too.

Do you miss the area at all?
I used to, but not really anymore. I live in Breckenridge, and I can’t ever imagine living anywhere else. This place is the best, and my family comes out all the time to ski.

Growing up, did you always plan to move west? And did you foresee yourself going as far with the sport as you have?
I didn’t really ski growing up. I had no idea how much fun it was until I moved out to CO and got addicted.

Since going pro, how has your life changed, what have you enjoyed most?
I get to travel a ton more to really amazing places. I went to Iraq and Kuwait last summer on an X Games tour to visit the troops, which was an absolutely amazing experience! I also get to compete all over the word. It’s really fun going to different countries and having all of your friends there to hang out with.

Do you think you’ve brought and spread a Minnesota-nice attitude to Colorado?
I sure hope so!

Summit Boardshop in Lake Elmo, Minnesota (“a suburb of The Cities”) closed their Backyard for the season.  The Backyard terrain park ended its season on Oct. 17, but the place is still worth mentioning.  The only artificial snow park in Minnesota features a rope tow and three different rail lines.  Check this snowboarding edit for an idea of what the park is like, and swing by the Backyard next summer for some park skiing when the real snow is gone.

The time has come; ski season in the Midwest is upon us!  Tyrol Basin in Mt Horeb, Wis., has opened!  The hill opened a box and rail-filled hike only trail with a six to twelve inch base.  For the time being, the run is only open this weekend from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  However, as temps continue to drop more runs will have snow.

Freeskier magazine has posted the finalist videos for the annual Salomon Backyard Jib contest.  The setups and skills these skiers whip out further proves that massive elevations aren’t necessary for honing the park skillZ.  In some cases snow isn’t even needed… which just so happens to suit the Midwest perfectly at this time!  Check out the four finalists on

Last January a few of Salomon’s team riders, Simon Dumont included, made it to Spirit Mountain in Northern Minnesota and threw down in the park with some locals.  Spirit was one of the 20 worldwide stops made by Jib Academy.

n1598670135_30050558_3680Liftopia, the website that offers discount lift tickets for slow-days (see earlier post), has released their first round of discount tickets for the 2009-2010 season.  Lucky for us, four Midwest hills were included with the endless western deals.

Minnesota: Wild Mountain, Dec. 3 tickets are $18 at 55% off.

Wisconsin: Devils Head, Dec. 7 tickets are $36 at 10% off.

Michigan: Caberfae Peaks, Dec. 5 are $12.99 at 62% and Crystal Mountain, Dec 12 are $22.99 at a 49% discount.

Take advantage of the Midwest deals and keep checking back to Liftopia, as more deals are added.


Lately, the temps have rarely risen above 60 degrees.  Not only does the crisp air signal the approaching ski season, but this cooler weather also accommodates preseason shredding perfectly.  For the past couple years some of my friends have taken full advantage of the shift in weather by transporting leftover ice shavings from ice rinks to their backyards and skate parks.  At least twice a week they shovel the “snow” into various setups that incorporate anything from homemade rails and boxes to picnic tables and makeshift wall rides.  The only negative would be the massive amount of mud that is sure to cover you by the end of the session.

If this weather stays in check, it’s only a matter of time until the midwestern hills hop onto the preseason wagon.  I’m keeping an eye on Tyrol Basin in Mount Horeb Wis., they usually have their act together by late October.