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Build-up at Blue Tomato Kings Park Hochkönig
An interview with Park Designer Karl Sanderson

The setup at Blue Tomato Kings Park Hochkönig has experienced substantial changes. Last weekend the Slope Area opened again with a fine selection of features. We talked to the mastermind behind the snowpark – Park Designer and Snowcat Operator Karl Sanderson. He tells us what has been going on in the park so far, his plans for the upcoming weeks and his favorite feature.

Hi Karl, how is the build-up going? What have you done so far?

Karl: "The build up of Kings Park is going quite well considering the small amount of natural snowfall so far this season.  Hannes and our snowmakers here at Hochkoenig got us started with some quantities of man made snow that allowed us to create a fun set up for December.

Up to today, we have built the Welcome Area (top section), and this area has also gone through a rebuild from its early season set up.  We have built our small jump line (4 kickers) and our medium jump line (3 kickers). Our early season jib line is now gone as we continue to make snow for the big jump line and a multi jib feature. We have the Slope Area (bottom section) of the park open with 3 medium jumps, 2 small jumps, a corner and 12 or 13 jibs.  We have built a different set up from the last few seasons and I hope people enjoy it.  As the season continues we plan on making some modifications, depending on how the weather treats us."  

What are the next steps?

Karl: "This week we will begin pushing the man made snow in the middle section of the park and will look to start pushing snow for the big jump line."

Are you happy with your shape crew?

Karl: "Oh yeah! The shape crew is great. I have several returning members this season. Gabo, Szabi, Olli, and Franck are back.  This continuity really helps in our day to day operations. Our new shapers Charline, Bartek and Lukas have integrated well and are definitely valuable members of our crew."

What’s your personal gem in the park? Favorite feature/obstacle?

Karl: "Probably the 3 jump medium line in the upper area"

Can you walk us through a regular day of shaping? What happens in the park when the lifts stop turning and the sun sets?

Karl: "Our daily operation after the sun sets is a little different. Usually we have been riding the park and make notes of problem areas, like spots in the park where we are lacking sufficient snow coverage or maybe a feature needs to be changed or dug out, or maybe a kicker needs rebuilding due to melting or new snow that has changed its original shape.  As a crew we discuss our plan and adapt our workload, this applies to both the hand crew and the cat operators.  At this time of year we are often changing elements or transporting features while we are doing our daily maintenance. We are also pushing snow for the next planned areas once we have completed the necessary re-grooming of the existing park areas." 

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In the clips we see you maneuvering this massive PRINOTH machine, yet it sometimes looks very gentle and smooth how you drive it through the park – how much training does it take until you actually know what you do with this beast?

Karl: "I think there are different levels of expertise applicable to operating snowcats.  First you learn basic driving and grooming operations, with more time and experience you begin to learn how to use the blade and begin to understand techniques for correct use of the tiller.  With even more time in the machine comes the ability to push large quantities of snow efficiently and the understanding of different driving techniques for changing snow conditions.  Eventually you are able to build quickly and precisely and gain insight into how the piles of snow you create will work for different styles of features.  Beyond that comes the understanding of whole park design, building and maintenance.  Something I'm still learning about everyday.

I think this is my 18th season operating snowcats."  

Any further comments? Anything you want to share with the Kings Park riders?

Karl: "To the riders of the Kings Park I'd like to say thank you and come again!  I know there are many choices for places to ride nearby and the fact that you do chose to ride here is appreciated. Be kind to the shape crew and let us know what you think about our park.  We value your positive input.

Oh yeah! Please do not stand on top of the corner feature at the end of the park or on the top of the landings of our jumps.  It is dangerous for you and other riders!

Be safe, have fun and thank you!"

As you can see, we've a lot going on in the Blue Tomato Kings Park Hochkönig. We've 39 obstacles open so far and there's a lot more to come. Stay tuned!

We are also mostly posting dope shots and clips on Facebook and Instagram. Check it out!  

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