Release the Hounds

the Rope Tow In the Midwest

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Release the hounds. The chaos begins at the rope and ends at the next run over. Ignore every siren going off in your brain, every primal extinct: the reflection of fear, insanity, and pain. Embedded in a short period of time is a high you can’t find on any street corner or bar. It’s the kind of euphoria you get when you blend panic and comfort. Every snowboarder and skier finds happiness in this satanic cocktail. It’s only on the rope tow you’ll find this particular atmosphere. There are no breaks. There are no stops. No rules. It’s chugging at an invaders pace until your gloves are filled with holes or your heart is.

The rope tow has changed my life. And it’s changed the sport of snowboarding and skiing forever.

Five years ago, or sometime in or around there, I was unstrapping a foot every run, waiting in a line –or god knows how long– waiting to get my rocks off. Like a rocket cussing out the stratosphere. My adrenaline left my body by the time I crossed that nagging orange slow sign and from there the inch by inch L.A. – like traffic began. And it’s no wonder why park sharks like us get a bad name on the hill. We wait in line among the herbivores, the fun moms and dads, the college frat bro’s all wearing a different hockey jersey over their coats, and the alpine ski team. It couldn’t have been a worse idea on the part of our ski hill’s board of directors. To try to park Israeli and Palestinian refugees in the same rations line. How about we sprinkle it with a taste of Syrians, Libyans, Pakistanis, and whomever else you can muster up. It’s organized chaos and it’s no wonder why people like us are chomping at the bit to catch the next chair. You can’t just strap a plank or two to your feet and hurl yourself at a bar of metal or fly thirty feet in the air and expect us to wait patiently in a line next to Jon Doe who thinks Hall and Oates is rock and roll. Yeah, we see those looks you give us.

Lest we forget the unstrapping. To take one foot out of your binding and repeat the processes opposite at the top is not natural for a snowboarder. The weight cranks on your foot on the way up. That little cut from your edge grinding its way across the toe of your boot. Figuring out where the goofy rider sits. Very primitive, really. And all for a couple of minutes ride down a run sprinkled with features and lips carved unnaturally by those who are not disciplined enough to navigate the course. You know that guy with a kid on a training leash? Also there. And it must drive you as bat shit crazy as it does me when you think about all the times you were almost banned from the hill for racing down their slalom course.

This all may be a uniquely Midwest problem. And those who ride here know it all too well. And so the segregated rope tow was born. And you can’t beat Hundreds of laps a day and the option to get on and off at any point, not to mention the deterrence it had on those inexperienced and skilled at using the rope. We still have numerous, mostly young, skiers and snowboarders making the park dangerous; not only for us but for them. These young kids have no concept of how a park like this works. They’re constantly merging in and out of the lanes which parks are organized, cutting an unsuspecting rider off, and endangering both themselves and the rider. These young kids also treat the features in a negligent manner. They use rail lips (the small wedge-like ramp before a rail) as a small jump which results in an unnatural wear in the lips that can endanger those who use them the right way. I can’t even count on all digits how many times I’ve run into these kids or have been cut off by them. It’s an everyday thing. I cannot express enough the frustration I feel when they are there. And the problem is, they don’t know any better…

When performing such a high-caliber sport where anything can go wrong, you need absolute certainty that everyone around you is respecting the course and has comprehensive knowledge of the rules. But the thing is, this is an art form, there are no rules. So how can those of us who are knowledgeable about the park educate those who aren’t? How can we, the leaders, solidify the future of this altruistic landscape? We know the whole “no rentals in the park” isn’t the answer. We know Jerry traps only work in the mountains, and yelling only tarnishes our already corrupted image.

I don’t have the answers. But I know it’s a problem we all need to be working to solve so we can enjoy this new experience together. This rope tow is a new experiment we’re frantically trying to figure out and enjoy thoroughly at the same time. So let’s do it right but let’s be respectful. Let’s pool our minds together. Let’s be the generation that revolutionizes the sport. Let’s have fun.

#LAPtheROPE #stopclickbaiting @Earllllllllllll @thetrainpark

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