Interview: Chris Gunnarson of Snow Park Technologies Talks About the Building of Peace Park 3
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 Chris “Gunny” Gunnarson from Snow Park Technologies to learn about what goes into the process of creating these snow features.
Give us a little background on your company.
Chris Gunnarson: I started Snow Park Technologies in 1997. We design, build, and plan out projects that happen on snow. We work with a lot of snow resorts and other things in the action sports world. We design and build all of the Winter X Games, as well as do a lot of the athlete services for the Summer and Winter X Games. The really fun projects happen when we get to do things like Peace Park.
How do you get started with building features and activations on snow?
CG: In the early days of parks and half-pipes, I was running the terrain park program at Snow Summit in Big Bear. In SoCal, that was the birthplace of winter action sports. Being in the right place at the right time led to me being on the forefront of the inaugural terrain park scene. I started getting a lot of contacts from ski resorts and other big events that wanted help with their terrain park program. Our little “band of thieves” would go out and help other people spread that initiative.
How’d you get involved working with Peace Park?
CG: We have a really tight, longstanding relationship with Burton. Danny Davis is also a good friend and fellow Tahoe guy. He had this vision of what could be done with a conventional half-pipe that breaks the mold and becomes more about creativity, style, and soul rather than rigid competition. That original year of the Peace Pipe—which we called it then—was just taking the original 22-foot superpipe at Northstar and modifying it to offer a lot of expression session elements. Going into Year 2, we didn’t even know it was going to happen. We wanted to take it up a notch, but keep it in the spirit of what this is all about. That’s when we moved it to Squaw Valley, expanding the whole setup to be in and around a pipe with more jump and hip elements. When the time came to talk about doing it again, Danny had a vision of making it have more flow and variety. We knew that it would take a really specific location to allow for that earthy and organic feel.
This stuff is no easy task. What went into the manpower and amount of snow you needed to build all of this?
CG: The whole process truly starts with finding the ideal location. There’s so much backend, behind the scenes stuff that goes on before you actually touch the snow. Each one of the resorts on our list was incredible, but we landed on Targhee for a variety of reasons. Not only were there a ton of logistics, but then there was also the question of whether the mountain would be supportive. We first started talking with Grand Targhee and owner Geordie Gillett. They were a bit wary, but after looking at the Mountain Dew events from the first two years, they thought it was pretty cool. We chose this spot that’s actually their cat skiing operation. It was the perfect hidden gem that had every aspect we could’ve wanted and more. Once we turned loose with some snowcats and got crazy, that’s when the fun began. Peace Park started with more of a feel of what we wanted to create, and specific elements that Danny wanted to see. The rest was truly a creative process where our team had this big zone to work with. The snow was bigger, the equipment supply was bigger, and we built what might be the coolest thing we’ve done in our whole career.
How long did it take?
CG: It took 16 days to build everything. Each day has been a little bit of a tweak process where we’ll add a little something or change some stuff. It was definitely round-the-clock work from a bunch of snowcats that are the best at what they do.
What do you think will be next for Peace Park?
CG: The sky is kind of the limit. You’re only limited by imagination and physical reality. We’ve all been talking amongst ourselves about how we can top this. It’s a repetitive conversation. One of the cool things we added this year was a lot of flow, so we’ll build a lot of pipes, parks, and jumps. There are so many endless lines. First and foremost going into next year, we’ll be keeping that vibe going of never getting stagnant.
Peace Park 3 airs Sunday, November 30 at 2 p.m. EST on ABC.
(Pictured above: Chris Castaneda, Chris Gunnarson, and Mike Binnell)