Being a member of a park crew at a ski resort is not the cushy job you might think it to be. The idealistic thought of riding around hitting features, just so you can, “check them out” is a mere tip of the iceberg for the work they do. Sure, doing so may be part of it, but it is what you don’t see that may surprise you.
Setting up the parks so that they are safe and effective for everyday riders is really hard work, the majority of which is done for long hours when the resort is closed. As the sun drops so too does the temperature. The elements after hours can be straight-up brutal. Recognizing these conditions along with the hard work that park crews put in, BlackStrap started their Parks Crew Project. By sponsoring 50+ terrain park crews across North America BlackStrap keeps them safe while getting this unsung job done while at the same time gaining real-life product testers.
Park Crews are Real-World Product Testers
Photo Credit: BlackStrap
Whether you are a skier or snowboarding riding in the park, someone who likes to cruise blues or possibly even staking your claim off-piste in the backcountry, we can all agree that protecting our body from the elements is an absolute must. Blackstrap continuously delivers high-quality American-made products that the snow sports community trusts to keep them warm and comfortable while on the mountain. Success such as this requires a lot of trial and error and testing in the most extreme conditions.
Jim Sanco, BlackStrap’s brand manager explains, “park crews are a subset of our industry that truly put products to the test. Regardless if it is facegear, baselayer, outerwear, optics or hardgoods, park crews are on hill every day no matter the conditions. At BlackStrap, we cannot think of a better bunch to stoke out and look to as real world product testers.”
Being Part of a Park Crew is a Grind
Photo Credit: BlackStrap
Digging, shaving, shaping, heavy equipment, and—geometry, yes, geometry, working on a winter resort’s park crew is a labor of love. No one is retiring off the mere 12 to 15 dollars an hour they make grinding away during these long, cold hours. Day after day these crews show up without celebration doing the math, putting up fencing and signage, testing, inspecting and building the features we love. Ultimately, they provide us with an imaginative playground for those that ride park, as well as those that just want to ‘hit some jumps’ on their next ski and snowboard vacation.
BlackStrap has a soft spot in their collective hearts for these crews. Sanco himself was on a crew for a bunch of years so he knows the grind that these people go through on a day to day basis. However, he is not the only member of the Blackstrap team that cut their teeth working for a resort.
Sanco elaborates by saying, “Most of us grew up skiing, snowboarding and progressing in terrain parks from Oregon to Vermont and everywhere in between. For BlackStrap, supporting Park Crews helps to support progression, safety and really the core of resort operations for young skiers & snowboarders that will have life-long love of being on snow.”
Supporting Park Crews Across America
Photo Credit: BlackStrap
BlackStrap supports 50+ Terrain Park Crews across North America that make up the BlackStrap Park Crew Project. They outfit more than 650 Park Crew members each year with Facegear, Headwear and accessories that they use, day in, day out and ultimately put their stamp of approval on.
“The best part about the Blackstrap product line is that they have options based on the climate of your local resort, explains Sanco. Park Crew’s on the Blackstrap Parks Project get to pick 2 different face mask options, there are heavier weight balaclava options for the coldest days in The East, and lightweight breathable neck tube styles for crews raking and maintaining parks in the west.
The top products selected by park crews across the board are The Team Hood, The Hood and The Single Layer Tube. Each member also gets a beanie and a goggle cover as part of the kit BlackStrap delivers.
The Team Hood – $44.99
Part balaclava facemask, part hood…all the protection your face and head will need. The Team Hood offers off the charts comfort thanks to the 4-way stretch material that magically never seems to get drenched with moisture from your breath. Add in the balaclava’s contoured design and adjustable pull tabs and you are guaranteed the perfect fit whether wearing it over or under your helmet.
The Classic Beanie – $19.99
Be prepared for BlackStrap’s classic beanie to become an instant favorite. The 4-way stretch material give this beanie a comfortable, I’ve worn this forever feel that is perfect for scraping snow in the park or drinking après ski beers after.
The Single Layer Tube – $19.99
The Single Layer Tube is an excellent choice when it comes to protecting your face from the elements. The material may feel lightweight but the but the defense it provides is far from it. Once again, BlackStrap’s 4-way stretch material is the key. Lightweight and breathable and able to be worn with multiple applications the Single Layer Tube has become a go-to for park crews and riders alike.
Rich Stoner is the founder of the après-ski lifestyle clothing and media brand, All About Après, and the co-host of the Beyond the Après podcast. No stranger to the ski and après-ski scene, Rich has been a long time contributor for many publications on topics like skiing, gear, beer and food. However, his passion is on the slopes and enjoying good times with good people. You can find him perfecting his craft carving turns and drinking beers in the Green Mountains of Vermont. @allaboutapres