December 28, 2010

They're riding high

Portland's winter riding scene flourishes with a growing terrain park and free lessons.

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Payson Park's terrain park could be renamed Good Will Hill.

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Brent Legere jumps onto a rail at Payson Park’s terrain park. The park has grown rapidly in the past two years, thanks to donated terrain park features and snow guns. The park will have free skiing and riding lessons available on Wednesday afternoons starting Jan. 5.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Alex Sim hits a jump at Payson Park. According to the city, the park is the only free municipal terrain park east of the Mississippi River.

Additional Photos Below

For the past two years Mainers and recreation groups have given to the small hill in the city park. Now area youth can learn aerial tricks there for free.

First came the free terrain park features that were donated in 2008 by Maine's ski mountains.

Then in the summer of 2009 dirt was hauled in to the hill by the city -- and then graded over by R.J. Grondin & Sons Construction for free.

Last year the snow guns were donated by Freeport resident Ben Susla.

Now for 2011 what is being called Payson Hill Terrain Park will feature free skiing and riding lessons with the help of Ski Maine Association and Maine ski areas.

It may be the only municipal park in the country where this is happening.

"It's pretty unique ... It is only one of three or four free municipal terrain parks in the country. It's the only one east of the Mississippi," said Portland spokesperson Nicole Clegg.

The ski and snowboard clinics, with instructors from Maine ski areas, start Jan. 5. They take place for seven weeks on Wednesday afternoons, from 1 p.m. to 3:30. The clinics coincide with early release days at Portland schools.

Not that Payson Park needs all the attention. The city's newly developed winter playground is a hot spot. It was Monday when a blizzard dumped a foot of snow on the city.

"The snow will generate a lot of excitement and it will stimulate kids to get out and pack down the approaches to the park elements," said Greg Sweetser, executive director of Ski Maine.

While the Eastern Promenade is a famous sledding hill in Portland, the Back Cove park is an easy walk for many neighborhood youth. There is free parking, and plenty of it. And the terrain park is simply much loved.

"It's sort of become a destination," Clegg said.

And, it keeps growing.

All the donations to the terrain park came from word-of-mouth offers and suggestions, Clegg said.

"It wouldn't be possible without the donations. I think this is done through the good will of the community. A lot of organizations wanted to support and help out," Clegg said.

 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: dfleming@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Jake Farrell works on an Indy Grab while going off a jump at Payson Park. The foot of snow Portland received recently should fuel the riding.

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Adrian Willing hits a terrain park element at Payson Park on Monday.

 


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