Getting Tricky for the River Nugget Jam

The prospect of stepping foot in a terrain park for the first time is a slightly scary one at any age…especially when we all know the older we get, the harder we fall. Like with any skill, the earlier we start, the better off we are.

With the increased popularity of terrain park skiing/riding, more and more kids are looking for some aerial action. To offer a helping hand to any and all of those nuggets interested in learning the ropes (or the rails, boxes and jumps in this instance), the Gould Academy Freestyle/Freeski and Sunday River Events and Competitions teams have joined forces for a second River Nugget Jam. River Nugget Jams offer opportunities for kids to get first-hand coaching tips on basic of park skills.

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For the inside scoop on River Nugget Jams, Team Snow caught up with Gould Academy Competition Program Directors John Kimble (Freestyle/Freeski Program Director) and KC Gandee (Snowboard Program Director).

Can you give us some background on River Nugget Jams (RNJ)? When did it start? Where did the idea come from?

The idea came from Sunday River Competition and Events and the Gould-Sunday River competition coaching staff.  This year is our first year hosting RNJ. The first event [Dec. 18] went well and was very well attended.

Who can participate in the RNJ?

We started the RNJ hoping to help get the little nuggets (5-to-8-year-olds) who are not in a weekend program or who are not comfortable going into the park on their own. We also wanted to show these same kids and their families how coaching can help them grow skills in the park and help them learn.

Who are the coaches at the event?

The event will be covered by Gould Sunday River Freestyle and Snowboard coaches.

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What is the goal of the RNJ?

Simply to get younger skiers and riders excited about Sunday River’s awesome parks, and about joining the Gould Academy weekend programs.

What park have you been using this year? Why is that park ideal for the RNJ?

Who-Ville [on South Ridge]—it is perfect for grassroots development. The key to safe and fun progression is appropriate terrain. Who-Ville has smaller, wider jib features that are ride- and ski-on. The simpler the features, the better for learning. Once skiers and riders are comfy on easier features, they can challenge themselves on more complex or technical features. Nugget Jams are not about going big, they are about progressing to those features that are big!

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What’s the most impressive trick you have seen a first-timer pull at one of the RNJ events?

Most of the kids at the last event were working on transitioning from 50/50ing boxes to sliding them sideways, so not too many fancy tricks but lots of great gains. There were a ton of “new” tricks—as in new to that skier or rider—which is always impressive to watch!

What types of tricks/skills should first-timers work on to get some style points in the park this season?

The easiest way to gain style points is for skiers and riders to use their range of motion. Get low, oppose legs (one straight, one flexed) and add grabs—a tip or tail grab can be easy. Make your body move and you’ll get style.

Can you give some words of wisdom for any young skier/rider looking to get into park/freestyle riding?

Go in the park and have fun with it; work rails, boxes, and transitions the best you can and go from there. The more comfortable and confident you get the better. Bigger tricks and style will start to come with time. Start small, master a trick on an easy feature, then take it to a more difficult feature. When you’re ready to learn a new trick, go back to the easier feature to learn, that’s what they are there for!

The second River Nugget Jam of the season takes place Saturday, February 18, and the third is on Saturday, March 12. The events are free for all kids with a lift ticket or season pass (and a parent to give them the “okay.”) Come on out and join us on Whoville from 1-3PM and get tricky!

Check out how much fun our youngsters had during the first River Nugget Jam.