Spring park days in North Lake Tahoe at Northstar

The saying goes, "April showers bring May flowers." However, in Lake Tahoe, I like to think of it as winter’s kiss brings spring bliss. And after this winter in Lake Tahoe, that’s what we can all hope for. For some it's sunsets at Speedboat Beach, for others, sunrises at Tamarack, but for me, it's spring park laps on Vista Express!

And following an amazing winter, and great start to spring, Northstar’s terrain parks are out of control right now! 50-plus features for all ability levels and all riding styles adorn Pinball, Moonshine, and The Straits. Bonus points: Conditions get better as the day goes on. These areas of the mountain receive a warming period in the morning, with direct sunlight beginning around 10 a.m. -- the reckoning hour for freestyle. From then on, it’s survival of the fittest, fastest, and most fearless as you navigate down a perfect park.

Not an old man by most definitions, but an older man by freestyle snowboarding definitions, I find myself cautiously approaching jumps now. Launch and landing are now a science, as safety concerns have grown in the press tabloids of winter sports. At Northstar, I expect nothing less than the right angle up and the right angle down. And the terrain parks deliver. The jump lines are incredible. Pop, trick, stomp, repeat!

Furthermore, the old adage of saving the best for last, is also a pledge of Northstar's terrain parks, namely, the Superpipe and classic headwall Quaterpipe finale. It's a helluva time. Slash and slay as you wave to mid-mountain onlookers.

But one of my go-to tricks for years has been the handplant (a real crowd pleaser!), which I’ll never give up. I do two handplants regularly, the BS Andreachts and FS Inverts, but I recently found myself hiking the QP and learning a few new variations. Come out this April and I’ll even show you! 

Pro tip: Handplants are a low-risk, high reward terrain park trick.

The late David Bowie once sang, “Ground Control to Major Tom,” and I’ll be darned if that's not how I often feel, ready for lift off. But it’s not just about jibbing boxes and rails, or grabbing sky, but rather about the confidence it instills after landing. What once was impossible, now possible. What once was out of reach, now in reach. And the mental fortitude from riding the park has helped me believe in myself in other area’s of life too, as well as equip me with the work ethic and perseverance to rip life.

Meanwhile, spring park days have just arrived, so do yourself a favor and get up here. And, do yourself another favor and grab a beer on the sundeck after. Live music, intense California rays and a crisp lager are the perfect end to the perfect day in the park at Northstar California.

Nick wears many hats... literally, it’s near impossible to catch him without some type of season appropriate headwear. Truly, Nick is both eclectic and diverse — retired professional snowboarder, global winter-sport marketing specialist, local entrepreneur. Native to North Tahoe, he and his wife, Laura Lawson Visconti, have lived in Seattle, Portland and now indefinitely reside in Truckee, California. If you see him out and about, don’t hesitate to say hello; you never know, that passion may end up with you and him at Petra Wine Bar sipping a cuvée and exchanging life stories. Follow Nick on Facebook and Instagram.