Drive along Quinn’s Junction on a breezy winter day, and you’ll probably spot a flock of kites soaring in rhythm above the snow. Situated in a natural wind path, this parcel of open space is prime real estate for local kiteboarders looking to convert gusty air currents into a source of speed, amplitude, and adrenaline.
With a harness at the hip and skis or a snowboard at their feet, kiters are known to accelerate to 50 miles per hour and fly upwards of 100 feet in the air by navigating the parameters of the “wind window” responsible for generating kite power, before gliding into a smooth landing and catching another updraft.
This relatively young sport has a dedicated following in Utah, with several organizations (Cloud 9 Snowkiting School, 801.576.6460, paragliders.com, or Best Snowkiting Center of Utah, 801.998.8546, bestkiteboarding.com) providing lessons in Park City and in the backcountry for curious skiers and snowboarders who are keen on taking their riding to, well, new heights.
When it comes to terrain parks , Park City boasts major industry clout. Its fame as a freestyle hub began during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, when Park City Mountain Resort unveiled a new 22-foot-tall halfpipe design that set the standard for today’s superpipe events, helping legends like Shaun White and Tanner Hall (both of whom have spent time training in Park City) quickly rise to pipe notoriety.
This season, seven separate terrain parks are divvied among Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort, loaded with creative jibs, jumps, and pipes engineered for every level of rider. Within the largest parks, heavy hitters put on a display of contortionism, inverted flips, and mega amplitude that is unattainable for most. But plenty of easy-riding features in beginner-friendly parks allow the most timid amateur to grind a few boxes and conquer gravity with ease, especially if you take a lesson first (Park City Mountain Resort Freestyle Camps, 435.649.8111, parkcitymountain.com, or Canyons Resort Terrain Park Clinics, 435.649.5400, canyonsresort.com).
And for the discerning spectator, ongoing terrain park competitions at the resorts provide just as much adrenaline without your ever having to leave the ground. Canyons was just rated no. 9 for terrain parks in SKI Magazine’s North American resort rankings, and PCMR’s parks ranked no. 2. PCMR also opens a new park this year, Neff Land.
Aerial skiing is one of six disciplines within the freestyle skiing family, but you won’t find any halfpipes in this sport. Soaring into the sky on near-vertical kickers, aerial skiers reach heights often exceeding 50 feet and execute intricate combinations of flips, twists, and straight-legged somersaults before touching down on the chopped-up snow that, ironically, makes for a smoother impact.
Dryland training facilities, like trampoline gyms or water ramps, provide athletes with year-round support when it comes to learning new tricks. Fearless children and adults can experience the inverted rush with a series of introductory aerial camps at Utah Olympic Park during the summer (Utah Olympic Park Freestyle Camps, 435.658.4200, utaholympiclegacy.com), but many seasoned veterans attribute the success of their careers to years of gymnastics at a young age. For the rest of us, we’ll gladly join a few thousand other spectators and cheer the pros on as the world’s best aerialists compete for international glory at the FIS World Cup at Deer Valley, January 30–February 2, 2013 (435.649.1000, deervalley.com).