Now in Cali after adventures in Colorado and Utah, Pingu approaches Northstar resort at low tide. Illustrations by Kieron Black.
I think most shredders’ strongest association with Northstar is probably Torstein’s seminal top-to-bottom one-take run, which saw him slay a near endless array of rails, boxes, old gondolas, kickers and the pipe – and which arguably still defines him to this day, even more so than when he broke the seal of pandora’s box when he unleashed his triple cork.
For snowboarders of a certain age raised on the relatively confined park set-ups of Europe, seeing him ride at full tilt for nearly 4 minutes and hit feature after feature, was like a siren call to the freestyle-friendly slopes of the US, and specifically Northstar. And in any normal year, if such a thing still exists, Northstar’s terrain would be littered with features, allowing those of us with much less talent to attempt to imitate Torstein’s run, and experience the thrill of doing more than 3 hits in a row before having to hop on the button lift back to the top of the park.
“Seeing Torstein ride at full tilt for nearly 4 minutes and hit feature after feature was like a siren call to the freestyle-friendly slopes of the US”
But unfortunately in the spring of 2015, as California rolls into its 4th year of drought, the sprawling freestyle terrain has had to be curtailed for the good of the general skiing and snowboarding populous – as the precious little snow that has fallen (or been spewed from snow canon) has been harvested to simply keep the resort open.
So in trying to boil down my thoughts about Northstar, such that it could inform someone else considering coming here for a holiday or even a season-long stay, I will attempt to distance myself from the fact that effectively just 3 different pistes were open when I was there (I’m sure official stats would be more favourable, but that was basically it), and talk about what the resort and the surrounding area could offer, were mother nature to return to something approaching her normal form.