A hard-knock life | TheUnion.com

A hard-knock life

Dan Warren and Kyle Crezee have become two of the luckiest guys in town. Warren and Crezee, the Ski Patrol and Race Services directors at Northstar-At-Tahoe during the wintertime, have found year-round employment at the resort.

Warren is the Mountain Bike Park manager, and Crezee is the Race Services director, and they’re having just as much fun on the mountain this summer.

The resort, which opened its mountain bike park two weeks ago, boasts an expanded lineup of mountain bike terrain suitable for riders of all levels and, considering the sport, attitudes.

New this year is an entire section of terrain dedicated to downhill/freeride enthusiasts – mountain bikers who enjoy negotiating big drops, gnarly rocks and a series of man-made obstacles including wooden ladders and ramps.

“What we’ve done this season is we’ve dedicated staff to making features on the mountain,” Warren said. “Ladders and jumps and stairs made out of wood planks and platforms.”

To keep riders within their comfort zone, Northstar rates its trails using the same system it uses for ski runs during the winter: green trails are relatively easy, blue trails are for intermediate riders, black trails are quite challenging, and the double black diamond runs are downright scary in places and are favored by downhill experts on specially built bicycles.

The variety of terrain – more than 100 miles of single track and fire roads – means everyone can find something he/she will enjoy. And according to Warren, the resort plans to continue expanding its intermediate and beginner offerings throughout the summer.

The riders who showed up for opening day seemed to appreciate the changes Northstar has made.

Carnelian Bay resident Dan Finn brought his downhill gear out to the resort to check out the new trails.

“It’s fun. A good time, and you don’t have to climb,” Finn said, adding “There’s some scary stuff. They have a good range of pretty much everything.”

Finn was just one of what Warren considered a good crowd of riders to kick off the season.

“This is a good first day. A lot of excitement, a lot of people having a good time. So we think it’s going to be a very successful season for us,” he said. “We don’t have real projections for numbers [of riders] yet, but we definitely expect that there will be more people this season than we’ve had in the past. Especially with the addition of the new features, and the quality of the trails improves every year.”

Crezee and his crew of park building/ maintenance personnel are responsible for many of the new features riders at Northstar’s downhill/freeride park can expect to see this year, and he described how they go about deciding what to build at the resort:

“The first thing we do is come out and walk the terrain – scope it out and figure out what would be cool as a rider. Our whole crew is comprised of nothing but riders, so it’s cool. We come out here, figure out where we want to go, what we want to do, and say ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?’ And then from there we figure out how to build it,” he said. “We make sure we’re going to build it in a safe spot and that it is structurally sound so it can be ridden all summer and not be falling apart on people.”

According to Warren, the crew’s hard work seems to be paying off in satisfied customers, with riders from all over Northern California and Nevada coming up to Northstar to try out the new terrain.

“We really listen to our customers and try to give them what they’re asking for,” Warren said. “That’s really a changing target, so we just need to keep our ears open and make sure we’re providing what’s going to be most enjoyable for people.”

Northstar’s Mountain Bike Park is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun. Ð Fri., and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m on Sat.. Lift tickets cost between $20 – $33 for adults and $14 – $20 for children ages 9Ð12. For more information, call (530) 562-2268, or visit http://www.northstarattahoe.com.

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