The snowboard park can be intriguing for the regular, mountain user. Look at all those people gathered there. Is that music playing? Wow, some of those jumps look big. What are those metal rails for? I wonder if I should go take a closer look…
And so we find, from time to time, there are visitors in the park.
That’s to be expected; it’s natural for people to be curious. It should also be welcomed. First, the park is there for everyone to enjoy. It’s not restricted to those in the exclusive, freestyle club. If new people didn’t come to the park to check things out, our freestyle scene would get pretty stale, before long.
Visitors are welcome in the park.
That’s my view, anyway. So what’s with the title to this post?
Maybe I should have opted for: Can visitors in park be annoying?
Or even: Can visitors in the park be dangerous?
Both of those questions can be answered with ‘yes’.
There are rules to be followed in the park. There’s an etiquette. I’m sure we’ve all witnessed the procession of instructor and pupils, winding their way through the park ‘obstacles’, as if they were slalom poles to weave in and out of.
Or the moment when, and I only say this because it’s physically difficult for a snowboarder to stop anywhere and remain standing up, a skier choses the entrance of a rail to stop and converse with a friend. Worse sometimes, they block the exit.
Those things can be annoying.
But uneducated use can be dangerous too. It’s not that uncommon to see a skier or snowboarder carve across a blind landing. With the way some kickers are shaped, that kind of manoeuvre can go totally unnoticed by someone dropping in. Forget annoying, that shit is dangerous!
And that’s the thing – we see uneducated use. Sure, there are signs dotted around the park, and naturally, some parks do a better job than others when it comes to warnings and information. There is also the layout and design of the park to consider – where you can entre/exit, where you safely can stop/sit/wait, what you can and can’t see.
But it’s not possible to safeguard the use of the park with signs, warnings and effective layout. People are a little more unpredictable than that.
So what should we do when we see annoying behaviour?
- Be patient and wait?
- Maybe encourage the new users – help them along and explain the park etiquette?
- Call them out on it – toss some frustration at them?
Depending on the situation, any of those could be appropriate.
What if we see something that’s potentially dangerous? My advice is to intervene. It’s not always comfortable to tell someone that what they did, or what they were about to do, isn’t a good idea. Or to stop someone from dropping in because you can see something that they can’t…
But if you’ve got experience of the park and you know something is wrong, try to prevent the possible-accident. Try to educate the uneducated. We don’t’ have to be dicks about it, but we shouldn’t dodge the responsibility either. The last thing people want is an injury that could have been easily avoided.
Visitors should be welcome in the park. We should remember that we’re dealing with people, and that not everyone is going to automatically use the same etiquette. Not everyone is going to be as aware as they should be. Not everyone is going to think.
So what part should we play in this?