A place to play | Learning skills at Woodward Tahoe

Woodward Tahoe includes foam pits, an indoor skate park, a wood pump track and more. | Nina Miller

Trampolines, an indoor skate park and a wood pump track with ramps and jumps for skiers, snowboarders and bikers to fly into foam pits is a kid’s dream playground, and it’s all available at Woodward Tahoe.

The center located at the base of Boreal Mountain Resort is perfectly suited as a training center for athletes at all levels, but it is also a great place for a first timer to try something new.

“Levi climbed up to the top of a high tower with his instructor and leaped into the pit. And, then he did it again, and again.”

I brought my photographer friend, Nina Miller, and her 11-year-old son, Levi, to Woodward to show me what a child would think of the place on his first visit. His coach, Brandon Enouf, started with some stretching and warm-up exercises, while telling Levi about the safety rules. While Levi was a bit reticent at first, Brandon quickly made him feel at home.

In just a few minutes, Levi was running and jumping into the foam pit. Then, Brandon introduced him to the trampolines, showing step by step how to jump, do flips and then fly from trampoline to trampoline or into the pit. In short order, Levi was on it and having a blast.

Levi Miller spent a day at Woodward progressing through different skill sets. | Nina Miller

“Woodward is based on learning through progression. Each step along the way leads from beginner to advanced,” says Woodward Tahoe director of operations Phoebe Mills.

When Woodward Tahoe opened in 2012, the focus was on BMX, skateboarding and in-line skating. Now athletes work on ski and snowboard skills and move back and forth between being on the mountain and in Woodward.

“We see a huge return on this process of using both the mountain and Woodward for training. It is safer and people learn quicker,” said Mills.

The foam pit is a great place to practice skills in any sport. | Nina Miller

After mastering the trampolines, Levi climbed up to the top of a high tower with his instructor and leaped into the pit. And, then he did it again and again. Finally, it was time to progress to the pump track and try ski jumping. While Levi was getting his boots and helmet on, I watched a group of regular Woodward visitors flying off the jump on their bikes. They were attempting flips with the gentle encouragement of a coach. An especially good jump received a round of applause from the other riders and anyone else who was watching.

Levi practiced with the roller skis going up and over bumps, until his coach thought he was ready to make the leap into the pit. At first, Levi was apprehensive, but with gentle encouragement from his instructor and Mom, he rolled down the ramp and took a short flight into the foam. He emerged from the pit all smiles and ready to do it again.

“Once you have gone through a safety training and introduction, you can come and play on your own or take lessons. There is always staff around to help,” said Enouf.

Whether you are a skier or snowboarder looking to nail your next trick, a bike rider who wants to learn how to become a better rider or just a kid who wants to play, Woodward is a good place to be. Woodward offers sessions for adults, as well. | woodwardtahoe.com


 

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Tim Hauserman

Tim Hauserman wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, as well as “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” and the children’s book “Gertrude’s Tahoe Adventures in Time.” Most of the year he writes on a variety of topics, but you will find him in the winter teaching cross-country skiing and running the Strider Gliders program at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. He has lived in Tahoe since he was a wee lad and loves to be outdoors road and mountain biking, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking and cross-country skiing.