Interview: Burton’s Bryan Knox Talks About the Evolution of Peace Park
At the end of this year’s snowboard season, we made the trek out to Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming to link up with Danny Davis and friends for the filming of Peace Park 3. The amazing build out of this Peace Park was unlike anything we’d ever seen, so we sat down with Bryan Knox, Global Director of Team Marketing at Burton, to learn about what goes into the process of creating these snow features.
How’d you get started in your career at Burton?
Bryan Knox: I’ve been with Burton for about seven years. Growing up, I was a snowboarder. I started snowboarding when I was 12. When I was younger, I was a sponsored snowboarder, which allowed me to travel, do the nationals, and complete on some sort of level. Around the age of 20, I was watching riders like JP Walker, Jeremy Jones, Terje Håkonsen, and all those guys. After I realized I wasn’t as good as them, I got to a point where I knew I wanted to be involved in skateboarding but couldn’t be 100 percent the best. I went back to school and took some marketing classes. At 22, I got a job with Vans. That allowed me to work with people like Jamie Lynn, Daniel Franck, and Kurt Wastell—who were all on the team. I worked there for eight years, all the way up to Senior Marketing Manager. An opening came up at Burton, and the rest is history. Now, I work with everyone from Danny Davis to 15-year-old Gabe Ferguson. It’s cool.
So, you’re the man behind the idea of Peace Park, with Danny obviously being the focal point of it. Give us a little background on how it began to now being at the third one.
BK: I’m not about to take all the credit. It was about three years ago that Danny said, “Man, I’d like to just really do something different.” He wanted to deconstruct a pipe or bring a bunch of people together to snowboard for three or four days. I was completely down for it, so I went to Mountain Dew and proposed the idea. I realized that [Burton] had the media team, so we could handle it. I got the idea to reach out to Snow Park Technologies for the build.
The first one we did at Northstar. That one was a pipe that we deconstructed with channels, added rails, and some cool different features. Everyone loved what we did. Danny then started coming up with some crazy ideas for the next one. We wanted to do all of that, but still be realistic. It’s very expensive to have snowcats going and pushing all the snow. It’s awesome to work with Danny because he wants to see snowboarding progress. For me, it’s about getting a great group of people together. To come to Peace Park, you have to be a good snowboarder. You have to pretty much ride it all. We’re trying to mix it up on every aspect. Last year we went to Squaw and was super successful. We opened the pipe a little more and had some more jump features, but it was still a pretty condensed area. This year, I came up with Chris Gunnarson, Frank Wells—who built the pipe—and the Snow Park guys to Wyoming on a site location. When they took us to Peaked Mountain at Grand Targhee, we just thought it was insane. The cool thing about Peace Park is that you’re not being judged by judges; it’s about having a great time and doing what you want to do on your snowboard.
Who were some of the snowboarders you guys were looking forward to seeing?
BK: It was more or less Danny who did the invites. We got a couple of people who couldn’t show up because of prior obligations or due to injuries. I know Terje couldn’t make it and Pat Moore was injured, but we have a good group of riders here. Mark McMorris is here, Jack Mitrani showed up, Mikkel Bang came through from Norway, and the Ferguson Brothers are here. Scotty Lago is an insane rider, so we’re glad to have him here as well. A lot of these riders that are here are all-around riders.
How’s the relationship with Burton been progressing with all of this?
BK: I remember the first year it was just sort of a web edit on our side. The following year at Squaw was a similar deal, but we took it more seriously to the point where we envisioned it as a TV show. Thankfully, it made it to NBC. Going into the third year, we wanted to do it better since we were working with Dew. We took it more seriously once we realized that we couldn’t advance where we were. It’s a pretty obvious collaboration between Burton and Mountain Dew. They’ve been awesome to work with.
We’re also doing like a MVP, “rider’s choice” thing. Some of the guys are observing what’s going on so we can award riders that were MVP of the day. There are a couple of amazing prizes. We’ll do it each day, but there will be an overall winner that gets a cool deal.
Now that Peace Park is three years in, what does the future look like to you?
BK: I’ve been doing this a long time. Peace Park is the coolest, most flowing course I’ve ever seen. When I went up there two days ago to ride through the course, I was blown away. I think seeing it come to life from the beginning made me a little emotional to see the final product. It was just way better than I thought it would turn out. What really makes me happy is to hear the riders say that it’s the sickest thing they’ve ever seen. Travis Rice came over yesterday and was like, “Dude, this thing is insane. You guys killed it!” That’s where I get stoked.
I think Peace Park is just growing each year. We’ll just keep trying to bring it to the mainstream world and show them that this is snowboarding. It’s not a pipe or a slope-style course; it’s a little bit of everything. I think that’s where snowboarding needs to go for the future. Maybe next year will be 30 riders, with more TV time and media outlets. We might just grow the aspect of snowboarding.
Peace Park 3 airs Sunday, November 30 at 2 p.m. EST on ABC.
Image Credit: Dean Blotto Gray