Steamboat Springs “Keep your shoulders forward in the same direction as the line and try not to look down,” Parker Temple said Saturday afternoon as he coaxed a first-time slackliner across a taunt line held by two wooden posts.
On Saturday afternoon, Steamboat’s very own Howelsen Slackline Park had its grand opening. With food, prizes and music, the event welcomed newcomers to the sport as well as seasoned Slackliners.
Temple, who has been Slacklining for about three years now, said this designated park to the sport was needed among the young crowd in town.
“It’s a sport that’s really evolving here in Steamboat,” he said as he took a breather from doing a few flips in the air as he dismounted the slackline. “It’s an amazing thing for you body and balance. I am a ski racer so it really contributes to that.”
The project started in March 2012 by the 2012-13 Steamboat Springs Teen Council, who came up with the idea to create a slackline park as a way to increase physical activity and to have fun among their peers in the community. The group of 18 teens met with the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department and the school district to determine the best location for the park. Once that was established, they worked with Carl Warnke with Engineering Design Works to come up with a solid removable slackline post design.
The park is now near base of Howelsen Hill, between the Alpine Slide and volleyball courts.
The project is funded by LiveWell of Northwest Colorado, the Civic Canopy in Denver, Grand Futures of Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs.
“The goal of the project was to help inactive teens become active and to create something fun where kids could hang out with friends yet still get exercise and be outside,” said Kate Elkins, one of the co-coordinators for the SSTC.
The park will be open from dawn to dusk every day of the week for the community to use. The park does not provide slacklines. This is due to the loss of tension in the line if it were left out to fend against Steamboat’s unpredictable weather. Eventually SSTC would like to find a place that could rent out slacklines. Currently, BAP and Big Agnes sell the lines in town.
The donated wooden poles are made of beetle kill lodgepole pine. Each gives off its own personality to make the park a bit more dynamic. Ron Eye carved a bear, a wolf and an eagle on the pole.
More often than not, slacklining is seen as an elevated line between two trees as an individual attempts to walk across. With designated posts, the Steamboat slackline park gives the tress a bit of a break. Just ask Temple, he’s pulled out three tress in his back yard just from slacklining.
The event Saturday brought newly interested teens and adults out to slackline for the first time. Slackliner Shane Hickman said he kept hearing rumors about the park opening and just had to come over and check it out himself.
“Having an actually dedicated park like this gives the community a chance to unite slackliners,” he said. “It has the potential to bring a lot of people together.”
With a definite culture for the sport here in Steamboat, the SSTC as well as local Slackliners are brimming with optimism about the park’s long-awaited opening.