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An all-snowboarding resort, all of the time

A youthful partnership of Lake Tahoe area snowboarders and terrain park builders is about to construct their dream: a snowboard resort in Placer County designed purely with boarders in mind.

The location, which has been a sledding/tubing park for the past eight years, might become the first snowboard resort in the country that didn't morph from a ski area. Located on a 255-acre property near the Kingvale exit off Interstate 80, about 18 miles west of Truckee, the resort also could become the closest snowboarding venue to Sacramento when it opens in November 2006.

Kingvale Terrain Project -- the proposed name for the venture -- is the brainchild of four snowboarders, some of whom snowboard professionally at area resorts, or who make a living constructing terrain park features.

"We're not trying to be the new ski resort," said Day Franzen, one of the foursome and the operator of Railbuilders, a South Lake Tahoe company that manufactures rail features used in terrain parks, which cater to both snowboarders and trick skiers. "We just want to be the first snowboard resort. We're not canceling out skiers. We just want to be more park-oriented."

Franzen, who managed terrain park facilities at Heavenly Mountain Resort up until this season, says he has three financial partners, all fellow snowboarders: Corey Ayer, Jason Rydd and Shawn Durst. Durst is a professional boarder associated with Heavenly.

For the remainder of the 2005-06 winter season, the property will continue operating as a tubing hill, Kingvale Tubing Center. The center, which opened for the season Friday, will add an option for snowmobiling tours, said Franzen, who recently purchased 12 snowmobiles to serve as rentals.

Next year, Franzen and his partners plan to outfit parts of the hill with terrain park items -- rails and other features -- for the 2006-07 snowriding season. Their proposed snowboarding park still needs Placer County approval.

The property is owned by Robert Sinnock of Colfax and is leased to Franzen's group. Eight years ago, Steve Rankin of Truckee leased the property to operate Kingvale Tubing and Sledding Center. Rankin sold his business to Franzen in October for an undisclosed amount.

What will it cost to create Franzen's vision of a snowboard resort?

"I have no idea (yet). It's going to cost a lot," Franzen said. He says his project partners have industry support from two youth apparel companies, DVS Shoe Co. and Matix Clothing.

Franzen and his partners are evaluating several improvements: a lift system to get riders 500 vertical feet up to the park's top hill; snowmaking improvements to supplement the 300 to 400 inches of snow the area receives annually; and terrain features that Franzen hopes will return some of the whimsy to snowboarding.

"Snowboarding has become more about being cool than having fun," Franzen says. "I want to go back to fun."

Franzen knows he'll be in direct competition for snowboarding customers with Boreal Mountain Resort, located just to the east off I-80, as well as from other resorts around Lake Tahoe.

But the snowboarding entrepreneur feels his location has one slight geographical edge: "It's the first snow exit coming out of Sacramento," he said.

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