Free riding vs. park riding

It’s the time of year when CU students come down with the ski fever. Class seems longer when the mountains are accumulating snow and a freshly-waxed pair of skis is leaning against a dorm room wall.

Ski resorts like Eldora, Breckenridge and Vail attract many students on the weekends, but each person has their own niche when it comes to what they make of each mountain. The question of park versus mountain has plagued riders since time immemorial.

“Skiing is great because I love flying through the air, but nothing beats a deep powder day,” said Ravi Jayanath, an 18-year-old freshman business major, on his preference for actual trails over parks.

Skiing and snowboarding are hobbies for some, a recreational activity for others and a lifestyle for an elite few. There is a lot of talent evident among students on the slopes; some students love backcountry trails while others enjoy spending their time in terrain parks.

“Free riding is too consistent. In the park you can be creative and continue to progress,” said Spencer Curran, an 18-year-old freshman engineering major. “There’s really no limit to what you can do. Even if it’s the same trail each run can be completely different.”

Some students prefer to create their own trails through trees.

“I like free riding because I can shred the gnar through the trees,” said Kelley Chambers, a 19-year-old freshman open-option major. For those who don’t speak skier, to “shred the gnar” refers to tearing it up in deep powder, typically in the less populated areas of a resort.

Ali Williams, a 19-year-old junior psychology major, shared Chambers’ sentiments.

“I love the feeling of flying down the mountain as you just glide over fresh powder instead of trying to do a flip and breaking my back!” Williams said.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Elana Staroselsky at

CU Independent

The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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