Bittersweet Ski Resorts Terrain Park

michigan boarder, snowboard, michigan, midwest, snowboarding, bittersweet, terrain park

shot by Jon Mollema for shortstackmedia.

Bittersweet has the best hill in southwest Michigan. That’s a fact. Bittersweet also has a high speed quad, a bunny hill lift, a magic carpet and a fucking heated patio. Bittersweet has a shit terrain park. The fact they claim a beginner park is a sue-worthy statement.

So this being my first article with Michiganboarder I promised myself I would avoid all cliché play on words, but I just couldn’t help it. Truth be told this is my second time writing this review.  Apparently, the original straight forward review was too negative and the boss man had it shelved until a better assessment of Bittersweet’s terrain park could be made.  He stated it was too early in the year to make an accurate judgment. I guess I should probably add that Bittersweet is Michiganboarder’s founder Benny West’s home resort, so he harbors some feelings I do not. Benny himself was the first titled “Terrain Park Manager” and held that position for three seasons in what would be now considered the terrain park’s golden years. Benny denies that statement saying “standards were far lower then”, but regardless, this is a generally agreed upon statement. There were a few years post  Benny’s stint there where the park received very high praise as well I have been told. I might add that Bittersweet and it’s terrain park is what ultimately forced Benny into seclusion from the sport that he followed and loved to an almost sick extent. “I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was ultimately frustrating. I started hating snowboarding and I started hating the next generation of snowboarders” he said. He ended up not snowboarding for four seasons when he left Bittersweet in the 06/07 season returning in the 11/12 season to the sport.

The reason all of this is so bittersweet for so many people is because of not only what was…but what could be. One of the stipulations placed on me by Benny was that I was to acknowledge that Bittersweet’s staff, in general, is amazing and that GM Victor Gayheart is a fantastic manger and a generally great dude.  After being at the resort I couldn’t agree more. Staff was all friendly. I didn’t meet any of the head honchos, but everyone seemed decent enough. So what’s the problem? What is Bittersweet’s deal? Why the epic failure of what allegedly was once the place to be? After being pointed in a few directions I ultimately ended up talking to the older generation of locals; a bunch of thirty-somethings. All of which were pretty damn good well rounded shreds given their age. I was also able to talk to random youngsters on the chairlift. Most not knowing shit, but a few gems of info were found here and there. The general consensus of both young and old   is… Bittersweet doesn’t care. This isn’t a vindictive or aggressive “I don’t care” on Bittersweet’s end. It’s just this… Bittersweet is a well oiled money making machine. They run on a skeleton crew for everything and when these few men are done grooming the hill in preparation for what Bittersweet feels their general patrons want and need they have no energy or want left to work on what they consider to be last priority. While other resorts have seen and met the demands of a high-end terrain park Bittersweet is still way behind the times. Bittersweet sees the terrain park as a negative and not a positive.  To all the people that have grown up at this place it is unsettling to say the least. To make matters worse one of Bittersweet’s management members went so far as to say “we make so much money already that if we just closed that park down it wouldn’t affect us in the slightest. It would be a whole lot less of a headache I can tell ya that much”.  Yup! That’s a real statement. It also goes to show that Bittersweet is aware of the ongoing negative reputation of their terrain park and they are sick of hearing it. However, it’s not like they ever put real effort into changing that. Now before you go after us let it be known that this assessment of Bittersweet’s terrain park is a widely accepted reality amongst skiers and snowboarders alike and can be found on blast on many social media outlets such as Facebook and so on. To further affirm this, might we add that Bittersweet held no freestyle events last year…. Zero.

Already this has been a lengthy intro, but it’s an important subject to people. Even Bittersweet’s completely capable terrain park staff can’t manage to change things. With locally respected names like the Kearns brothers, Bryan Depauw, Tim Fischer, Jon Johnson, Alec Vanderweerd and others, no one can seem to get the powers that be to hit the nail on the head.  We in no way blame the terrain park kids. With the exception of one new feature for the year Bittersweet has become known as the junkyard rail park.  The only highlight being a 30-plus kink rail that looks and feels right. The majority of the features look like they have been salvaged from a scrap yard and welded by Stevie Wonder. Despite the array of medieval features it’s Bittersweet’s lack of attention and appropriate setup of such features that pisses people off. When the Sweet decides they’re going to actually do something with the park they go out and build a jump 90% of their clientele can’t handle versus making a park that everyone can enjoy and that has flowable lines.  This mentioned jump was not there when we did our tour of this resort, but it is a 50ft plus kicker and is described as a solid jump, but more than most can handle. Apparently it’s in the middle of the top section of the terrain park. This was confirmed by Benny.  Terrain parks aren’t supposed to be for Nancys, but Bittersweet has to understand there are general rules and reasons for things and they simply cannot manage to build a park correctly. Basics are lacking.  In fact, Bittersweet is more likely to build a super feature than a generally loved park. I mean they currently have two jumps. Apparently that’s what they are. One is so poppy it is only suitable for flips; you can only hit it going two miles an hour.  The other jump you have to straight up point it from the top of the hill to get to the sweet spot.  I also might add that what they consider a beginner park is nothing short of an absolute joke and will not be covered in here other than this. When we went through this beginner area the side support legs of the rails were poking through the snow and offered little Jonny and little Susie stitches if it all went wrong. These features run through a tree line no less, so if there is a train of children and Hoosiers running in at once and someone falls it becomes a complete shit show.  I also must mention it hadn’t looked like it had been shoveled in days.  During my visit there were five rails worth hitting and the poppy low speed jump at the bottom of the hill that had been dug from a mound. I mean someone actually took the time to build that.

michigan boarder, snowboard, michigan, midwest, snowboarding, bittersweet, terrain park

shot by Jon Mollema for shortstackmedia.

Bittersweet has the best hill in southwest Michigan. That’s a fact. Bittersweet also has a high speed quad, a bunny hill lift, a magic carpet and a fucking heated patio. Bittersweet has a shit terrain park. The fact they claim a beginner park is a sue-worthy statement.

Our recommendations?

Bittersweet has an enormous lack of basics. Bittersweet’s longest metal rail features are pipes with legs welded on them and are stuck flat to the ground making them total bullshit. We are generally gathering that Bittersweet feels like in order to compete they need to build some elaborate monster Cannonsburg features which just isn’t the case.  That unattainable goal mentally stifles them and makes them feel like ignoring everything. Bittersweet shouldn’t be considering that anyways especially since last year Bittersweet built some stair feature which I hear was the biggest turd this side of the mitten.  What they should do…

  1. Throw all current features into whatever that lake is in the front of the building.
  2. Make about 10, 20ft flat rails.
  3. Draw out the park. Decide where the jumps are going.
  4. Make flow lines for rails. Take produced flat rails. Have down sections and flat sections. All with different option and varying difficulties. i.e closeouts, bi levels, etc.
  5. Make medium strength jumps.  Appeal to more instead of to less.
  6. Put big jumps in focus areas like at the bottom of that steep run where the igloo vert jump is. That thing is trash anyways.
  7. You have boxes, that much is clear. These are the objects you want to make weird setups out of.
  8. Get a kids area together. This isn’t where you put all the trash no one wants from the other park. Put up boxes. Flat and down and walk away.
  9. Pick a leader who decides. Everything can’t be a democracy. When you have that you end up with a mini jump line through the woods that no one takes care of. That whole thing was cool except for the vaginas in every hit.
  10.  Take care of everything on schedule. I was there for two days and both days the park wasn’t shaped up. One day it was roped off and the other day it was demolished from the night before. I mean you have a heated patio! Organize better!

Maybe this review will help things. Maybe it won’t, but regardless it’s out there. Bittersweet skis more people than most other area resorts. We would venture to say that Bittersweet is one of the top grossing resorts in the state, so it’s true, they don’t need a park to make cash. Maybe this article will just be another factor that makes them despise their park further. We write what we see.  We have no affiliation to any resort. If a resort advertises on our page and they blow it we will let them know. That’s a fact. Our main goal is to pump up the people out there busting ass to make Michigan’s shred scene better. Think before you type us up that shitty letter you’re mowing over in your head right now. If we’re wrong let us know, but if you don’t know what you’re talking about there are a few other Michigan snow sports blogs you can go play tummy sticks with.

– JG  very own 30 somethings  Ben Weststrate and Ben Robbert rip bittersweet in the rain.

Fog’n Up Bittersweet from Shortstack Media on Vimeo.

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2 Responses to "Bittersweet Ski Resorts Terrain Park"

  1. CharlieVanDemark  January 10, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Check out the new shotgun rail, does that qualify as an “attractive feature”

    • BennyWest  January 12, 2014 at 1:25 am

      Yes Charlie that new rail that was built and put out after this review does qualify as a mildly attractive feature. As a matter of fact Bittersweets park does flow better now. unfortunately it is a far cry from where a resort of their magnitude and ability should be. You were at Cburgs city park opening today. Wouldn’t you like to see stuff like that? Or even the stuff in cburgs other parks at Bittersweet? I would… There is a reason CBurg is producing far better riders than Bittersweet. Bittersweet still has not caught on to the necessity of salting the kicks of their features. I love Bittersweet as much as I can love an inanimate object and still agree with the review. Bittersweet doesn’t even use salt on their kicks hence why they are always destroyed. There is nothing wrong with wanting a better park. I hope this sparks something that could help facilitate change.

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