Parkrats frequent Hyland Hills for winter entertainment

Minnetonka senior Jonah Daul, hucks a 360 as the sun is setting over Hyland Hills Ski Area. He lands this trick despite having binding issues the whole season, greatly inhibiting his ability to perform aerial tricks.

Hyland Hills Ski and Snowboard Area served as a daycare for me. For a great portion of my childhood, my mom would drop me off at Hyland so she could go run errands. I grew up snowboarding with friends and on my own since I was old enough to get down the hill without help. 

Hyland Hills is one of the resorts that perfectly encapsulates midwest skiing and snowboarding. “They got gnarly rails, fast ropes, and some decent jumps. The jumps are better than most places, Buck Hill, Afton, and Elm are trash,” sophomore Bowen Grieger said. 

Located in Bloomington, it is the closest hill to the metro, drawing in huge crowds of skiers and snowboarders alike every weekend. A large portion of these people are known as parkrats. A parkrat is another word for a freestyle terrain rider, which is a discipline focused on aerial and rail tricks. This practice is unique to the midwest where hills are smaller, and terrain parks are set up in tight areas to maximize space. This causes a tight-knit group of people riding together. “I basically lived there for a good 4 years, it’s a second home and my boys are there,” Grieger said.  

No matter where you are in the midwest, there is a certain culture that is common among parkrats. The perception of this culture is generally negative, most people just think of snowboarders as pothead kids that just screw around and ruin the snow. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. “There are kids from all different schools, and everyone is nice because everyone is there for the same reason: to shred tha gnar,” Grieger said. The majority of the trick skiers and snowboarders who hang out at Hyland are hardworking and motivated in search of improvement and great clips. 

There are kids from all different schools, and everyone is nice because everyone is there for the same reason: to shred tha gnar.”

— Bowen Grieger

Good footage is always sought after by the best snowboarders and skiers, as this is how most professionals get their starts. At Hyland names like Nick Goepper, Lucas Caye, and Dicky Thomas are revered as the gold standard of hometown skiers and snowboarders, and they are known for throwing down some of the craziest tricks ever seen at Hyland. These guys are, in a way, the legends of Hyland, however, most people never reach the level of skill. Most people ride for the purpose of having fun and learning new tricks. “I like snowboarding because it gives you a feeling like no other activity. You get to be outside, exercise, and challenge yourself to do new tricks which is very rewarding especially when you battle a trick for a while and finally land it,” senior Josh Mahoney said.

Skiers and snowboarders of all ages and skill levels spend their time taking hot laps in the park. This can be annoying sometimes because the little kids prove to be an obstacle more often than not. As much as the elders of Hyland would like them gone, for the most part they allow them to stay and do their thing, since everyone got their start there. “Their park is set up perfectly so you can have a new line every time you drop in and allows for creativity,” Mahoney said.

Hyland served as a daycare for so many of us. For a great portion of my childhood, my mom would drop me off at Hyland so she could go run errands. I grew up snowboarding with friends and on my own since I was old enough to get down the hill without help.