Last month, Gregg Janecky, an enterprising University of Montana student and a freestyle skier and snowboarder, towed three rails and a bunch of barrels up the windy road to Montana Snowbowl. Those items are the making of an experimental terrain park set to debut on the ski hill this winter.
"I've been in Missoula for about four years now," Janecky says, "and I watched the end of the tiny terrain parks fall apart and go away...And so last spring, with the help of a couple local shops, I put together a proposal that I submitted to Snowbowl."
The proposal, sent to Snowbowl owner Brad Morris in May, requested permission to build and organize a terrain park one weekend per month during the ski season to demonstrate the worth of the project. Snowbowl accepted, perhaps signaling a willingness to finally embrace a terrain park Missoula freestyle skiers and riders have long desired.
"At the end of the year, hopefully I can prove to them that they want to take this on as a full-time part of their resort," says Janecky, 21.
Janecky's dubbed the all-volunteer effort the Backwoods Project, soliciting support from local businesses and groups such as Backcountry Racks and Skis, Edge of the World, the Montucky Snowboard Team and Wolff Auto. He created a website, and he's been up on the Snowbowl run High Roller planning the park.
Could the Backwoods Project be the beginning of a permanent terrain park at Snowbowl?
"It just depends," Morris says. "These terrain parks require a lot of maintenance. The thing that's happened a lot of times at Snowbowl is that we have enough different kinds of natural terrain that people lose interest in them. But with more of an organized event, I think it's a better way to do it."
On Nov. 12, Edge of the World and KBGA 89.9 FM will present two snowboard video premieres at the Wilma Theatre with proceeds to benefit the project.