Arctic Winter Games snowboard park gets Olympic touch from northern designer

Tyler Nichol has built snowboard parks across Canada’s west for 15 years — even for the 2010 Olympics — but it's his most recent stint that’s close to heart.

Tyler Nichol of Whitehorse has been building terrain parks in Canada for the past 15 years

Tyler Nichol is a snowboard terrain park builder from Whitehorse. He designed and built the snowboard park for the Arctic Winter Games 2018. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

He's built snowboard parks across Canada's west for 15 years — even for the 2010 Olympics — but it's Tyler Nichol's most recent stint that's closest to his heart.

Nichol is the Arctic Winter Games' snow park designer and groomer this year — but he's no stranger to the Games.

The Whitehorse resident competed twice as a snowboarder, and attended twice as a snowboard coach.

"I've kind of been there, done that …. but it's nice to be the course builder and make sure it's done right," said Nichol, the contracted terrain park builder for the Games.

"And to be able to ride [alongside] the kids, it's pretty fun."

But Nichol said he barely has time to snowboard. He works mostly at night with his Snowcat, and has been hand-shaping, grooming, installing rails and big air ramps at the Fort Smith, N.W.T., snow park, which athletes will compete on starting Monday.

"It's not the glory job everyone thinks it is," said Nichol. "You don't see all the late nights and the 18-hour days. A lot goes into it for a perfect product."

Nichol has been hand-shaping, grooming, installing rails and big air ramps at the Fort Smith, N.W.T., snow park. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

Last year, Nichol said the community had a great test event for the terrain park.

"Everything went really great. The kids were super engaged in trying new things, getting out of their comfort zones."

But this year's snow conditions weren't as good and required a little bit of help.

"It melted a lot," said Nichol, who explained the community had to truck in snow for the event.

"[But] I think there's enough snow around, we can make some magic happen."

Nichol worked on the 2010 Olympic halfpipe, and spent three years to help turn parts of Whitehorse's Mount Sima into a terrain park that's become a national training facility for athletes. Nichol has worked on several other projects ranging from mountain bike trails to terrain parks on Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain.

Nichol said he'll be at the Games fine-tuning and maintaining the course and taking suggestions from coaches and athletes.

Junior and juvenile rail jam snowboarding competitions began Monday morning. Banked slalom snowboarding competitions start Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. MT.

With files from Kirsten Murphy

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