Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

By Tele Tony Jan 3, 2020
I went to Woodward hoping to reclaim some past freestyle ski glory. Did I find it?
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

My knee didn’t always feel like this. It’s the IT band, I’m told. Only a few years ago I was blissfully unaware of what an IT band was or how it could contribute to a nagging creakiness in my leg. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it doesn’t seem I’m getting any younger despite a steadfast refusal to admit my glory days are in the rearview mirror. Thanks to the virtues of modernity, I’ve found the fountain of skiing youth right in my backyard. No, I haven’t started taking illicit performance-enhancing drugs. I started going to Woodward Park City.

Woodward Park City is a state-of-the-art action sports hub with world-class indoor and outdoor facilities for skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders, mountain bikers and more. The indoor trampoline hub has five Olympic fly-bed trampolines as well as two SuperTramps. Numerous immaculately-maintained terrain parks have suitable features for everyone from first-timers to Olympic hopefuls. Woodward has everything the next generation needs to progress and take the sport to the next level. Turns out it’s also perfect for people who are nothing like that. People just like me.

What does this cutting-edge training facility offer the aging never was who was once an exceedingly mediocre park skier? The ability to reclaim the mediocrity I was once so proud of. When I was growing up, skiers had to hone their skills and learn tricks on hastily-constructed, janky features. We didn’t have the resources and facilities to progress in a logical and safe manner like today’s super groms do. For all but the most talented among my generation, achieving mediocrity was a hard-earned badge of honor.


With each passing season, my already-sparse bag of tricks shrinks further. I earnestly admire 50-year-old freestyle skiing legend Mike Douglas who still does a d-spin on his birthday every year and openly discusses his excitement for the first backflip of each season. I still manage a few inverts and the odd rodeo 540 each year, but they increasingly feel like rolls of the dice. Woodward, I’d hoped, would facilitate some sorely-needed repetition to rebuild muscle memory and air awareness without subjecting me to persistent aches and pains that accompany slams on hard snow.

I’ll admit to a bit of trepidation in the moments leading up to my inaugural trampoline session at Woodward. I was quite a bit older than everyone else hitting the tramps and far less skilled. Thankfully being a new father in my mid 30’s has sanded some of the more prideful edges from my obstinate adolescent ego, so I was willing to look bad by comparison. A few warmup hops and an over-rotated backflip shook out the jitters. A handful more off-kilter efforts got things rolling. A few wobbly rodeos here and a frantic misty 720 there and I started to find my center. Before I knew it the session was over, but I’d logged more airtime than in the past few seasons combined. I didn’t even feel like I needed to spend a month in an ice bath.

I decided one more trampoline session was in order before I tried to take things back to snow. Nothing revolutionary, but I was again able to work out the kinks without beating myself up. Then it was time to click into my skis. I hadn’t skied much park lately, but fortunately, Woodward had about a million features of varying sizes so I could work my way up without jumping right into the deep end. I won’t be challenging for a spot in the X-Games any time soon, but I’d describe the day's results as not completely embarrassing. And that’s pretty much exactly what I was going for.

Rekindling my very middling skills Woodward proved that whether you’re aspiring to do your very first tricks on snow or are looking to do some groundbreaking things on snow, having the resources to train safely is invaluable. The repetition builds muscle memory and confidence by allowing you to fail without dire consequences. More than anything, however, it’s just fun. This old dog didn’t exactly learn new tricks, but I had a blast relearning some old ones. Whatever your level or goals, give Woodward a try. If nothing else, it’ll make you feel like a kid again.

Daily passes; memberships; classes; and indoor, outdoor and all-access passes are available for purchase on the Woodward Park City website.