Every ski town across the country has its own beautiful, odd quirks and patchwork history that make it special and shape its culture.
But, without knowing what to look for when traveling to a new resort town, it can be hard to really experience the essence of what makes the area so great. So, to help guide you GrindTV reached out to a collection of icons from the snow sports world for an insider’s perspective on what makes their home mountain so wonderful.
This installment of “Local Knowledge,” we talked to snowboarder JP Walker, member of the legendary Forum Snowboarding team, originator of the double cork and one of the most influential jibbers ever, on how he fell in love with Utah’s Brighton Resort.
What’s your first memory of riding at Brighton Resort and really being blown away by it?
So my first time riding Brighton was over 20 years ago. It wasn’t the first resort I rode at because I didn’t live nearby when I started snowboarding. Despite that it was always the spot my whole crew said they wanted to have a season pass to.
Eventually, I moved near Brighton around 1992, and suddenly it was just guys like me, Jeremy Jone and Mitch Nelson riding all the time there. We all had that same vision and I don’t know why. Maybe we heard other pros rode there — guys like Brad Scheuffele — but really I think it all came down to terrain.
Back then, there were no terrain parks. It was strictly what each mountain could offer for freestyle terrain, and we just had it in our minds if we wanted to do the most progressive terrain Brighton was our only choice. We were riding there every day, and even though Solitude is right next door, we never even thought about going there. It was just, we’re here, this is where we’re meant to be and we’re never leaving.
Was the terrain ultimately the deciding factor for you in choosing Brighton as a home base?
It is. The topography here is crazy. All the resorts in this area are connected, but for whatever reason Brighton has the highest concentration of jumps and cliffs and pillows. You can go over the backside of Brighton and be in Park City and there’s nothing but groomers and hard pack.
But Brighton always had the best snow, the earliest snow and the most natural stuff. Plus, you can hike out-of-bounds and not get in trouble, and you can’t do that at other resorts. You can do all sorts of short hikes and hit all kinds of terrain. And it all funnels back down to the base.
The more places I went to in my career, the more I realized just how special Brighton is. There’s nowhere else set up like it. It takes you a few seasons to find your way around, but once you get it down you can spend a lifetime finding new hits. And you don’t have to deal with crowds.
Did you gravitate to that relaxed vibe at the mountain?
Yeah I always had a sense of pride about riding and being a local there. Like, look at a mountain like Whistler. It’s insane, but for how big it is, the mountain is tracked out by noon.
But then look at Brighton. It’s never busy, it’s not a big resort and there are only a few chair lifts. There aren’t any hotels or big restaurants nearby, it isn’t much of a destinations for tourists or people to go to. It’s just a local gem.
Do you think the laid-back nature of Brighton had an impact on your career?
Of course. It’s underground, and that’s how I am. My personality has always been more underground, I’ve always wanted to just keep everything progressive and not so mainstream.
Brighton has always let us do whatever we want there, most recently with our endeavor The Spot where they let us just go into the backcountry and build ramps and cut down deadfall and have bonfires. That relaxed attitude and letting us do whatever we wanted in the backcountry allowed me to prolong my career, by being able to draw from both rail and freestyle stuff.
You’re in the backcountry all the time, but if you’re riding one lift at Brighton, what are you hitting?
The Milly Express is my favorite. I’ll hit it later in the season, as it needs more snow to run, but you’ll never catch me anywhere else.
And after you’re done riding, where are you stopping for apres?
There’s a place everyone goes to called Hector’s Mexican Food. It’s a good, cheap burritos … that type of jam. They have that stuff all over the place in California, but out here in Utah, they don’t have that many places that do it right.
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