Transition Industries, owned and operated by Tyler Nichol, is changing the face of northern riding
Tyler Nichol, originally from Dawson City, has been building parks since he was a kid on the Dawson Dome and has gone from gold miner to a nationally renowned park creator in Canada. “I started off working in the mining industry at 18, so I gained a ton of experience doing that,” said Nichol, “Running heavy equipment and mining taught me a ton of skills. I’ve spent a lot of years at mountains, working and riding, with a lot of amazing people that have inspired me in so many ways. I feel lucky to have met so many good people throughout the snow industry.”
Nichol moved to Whitehorse from Dawson and was a volunteer coach in the snowboarding club Fresh Tracks (previously the club was Snowboard Yukon), back when Mount Sima didn’t have much of a park.
“In Dawson City, we were hand-building park features, at the local hill and in the backcountry, for years,” said Nichol. “So I started going to meetings and proposing that Mount Sima have a full-time snow park … To make a long story short, I put in a lot of time convincing board members that had never seen a park, that it was necessary to have one. This led to me getting hired in 2003 to make snow, drive snow cats and build parks. The rest is history.”
After his park-building experience during the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Nichol was invited to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver to work on their parks for the competition. From there, his reputation exploded and he was offered the park manager job at Mount Seymour in North Vancouver.
Nichol spent six years in North Vancouver, building parks and pipes at Cypress Mountain, for the 2010 Olympics, and managing parks and grooming at Mount Seymour. “I started Transition Industries four years ago, but I started doing contract builds nine years ago when I was living and building parks in North Vancouver,” said Nichol. “I started it because I felt it gives a bit of freedom and creativity to what I can do and where I can work and build. It just seemed like there was a lot of opportunity out there for snow and dirt work.”
He now runs his own park-building company, Transition Industries, and has created and designed Mount Sima’s park since 2013. “It’s grown from an idea, to seasonal, to a year-round business,” said Nichol. “It’s definitely enough to keep me busy. What started off as just winter snow work has turned into summer dirt work for snow parks, as well as mountain bike trails.
“It seems like the more I build the more people come to ride it. Sort of [like] that saying, ‘if you build it, they will come.’”
Nichol continues to work with a full winter contract at Mount Sima, but has also broadened his work around the northern territories during both winter and summer. “I worked on a kids’ bike park at the Research Forest in Whitehorse, this spring, and spent the summer in Dawson City, building bike trails on the Dome,” said Nichol. “I have also been spending time in Fort Smith, N.W.T., the past couple of years. They hired me to design and build the Arctic Winter Games snowboard courses, [such as] boardercross, big air and slopestyle. So this meant doing summer earth work to support a slope that gets very little snow and doesn’t have snow-making.”
It can be difficult in the North because even though it’s cold, the amount of snow is small, which can mean shaping the earth to suit the trails. “Everything [in Fort Smith] had to be very well shaped for the snow to work. It also meant fabricating a fleet of rails, boxes, a wall ride and a boardercross start gate—hauling them there [from 2,500 kilometres away] and setting everything up,” said Nichol. “I am continuing to work with Fort Smith to develop their slope into a full-on little ski hill!
“We are adding to the snow park and also building a sliding and tubing area. They have purchased a lift and lights that we will install next summer. I’m currently working with the hill in Yellowknife on some design plans for dirt work construction for next summer.”
Nichol is changing the face of skiing, snowboarding and biking in the North, but it isn’t just about using big toys and moving earth … it takes some creativity to build trails. “Building a trail or snow park comes with a lot of responsibility,” said Nichol. “It needs to be done well and be a ton of fun. It means being able to come up with design ideas and see it through to a finished product. From design concept, to the machine-building, to test riding. It can be stressful and comes with a lot of pressure, but that makes it all worth it when it’s done and people are shredding on it.”Nichol is also training the next generation of park builders with his unique and extensive skill set, and that includes his son Brett, 21. “My son is awesome and has grown up in the industry. He started riding boards at three, and riding around in snow cats with me since he was five. He’s sat in on lots of big builds, like 22-foot-tall half pipes at Cypress Mountain, and monster-size jumps for pros at Grouse and Mount Seymour. Now he’s a snow-making supervisor, snow-cat driver and park digger. Definitely proud of him … he’s a sick snowboarder, too. Makes it easy for when I need help building. The best part is rather than spending time apart, because I work so much, we actually spend a lot of time together and I get to teach him lots of great skills.”You can follow Nichol’s work with Transition Industries via his Instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/transition.industries.