We've taken a few moments to look back on some of the most read stories of the year. And while we have opinions about what we thought were the most interesting or most important, this is a glimpse of what you—our audience—connected with.
In the interest of self reflection and recycled content (it's good for the environment), here's a look back at our most read stories of 2016.
20. DOWNHILL LOSES A LEGEND: Steve Smith Dies at Age 26
"Long Live Chainsaw" has been a bittersweet rallying cry in 2016 remembering one of downhill's greats. At only 26, Smith had racked up some impressive rankings and would have undoubtedly continued to take top honors had he not been fatally injured in a motorcycle accident. Read the full story here.
19. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Skibowl Bike Park to Make History with Mt. Hood Night Riding
18. VIDEO: Sam Kingshill Shreds Mount Snow Bike Park
Sixteen-year-old junior pro Sam Kingshill hit some of the east coast's raddest bike parks with her MTBparks Pass this summer, seeking out the best training runs and sweetest terrain while road tripping between PRO GRT stops. She put together some videos to give us the lowdown on the lift-served goods. Her first video report from Mount Snow Bike Park where she gets her first taste of New England riding made our top 20.
17. VIDEO: Big Sky's New Flow Trail - 'Snake Charmer'
Known more for its fast and raw techy singletrack, Big Sky Bike Park has been upping the ante on its trail offerings with the help of Terraflow Trail Systems. The latest is Snake Charmer, a fast, flowing jump trail that, um, snakes its way down the mountain. The mostly drone-shot video released earlier this year garnered enough views to make our list. Give it a look here.
16. MEMBERS RIDE FREE IN BC: Whistler Joins 2016 MTBparks Pass
We were pretty stoked when Whistler Mountain Bike Park joined the MTBparks Pass for 2016, and apparently so were you, our readers. The announcement sent it to a solid spot as our 16th most read post of the year. Check out the news here.
p.s. Yes, Whistler is back for 2017!
15. FALLEN GIANT: Freeride Legend Passes Away
Unfortunately, news of another icon of our sport leaving us all too soon also made the list of most read articles in 2016. But it's no wonder the sad news gathered the attention it did; Kelly McGarry was not only incredible mountain biker, but also one of the nicest, most humble guys we've had the pleasure of meeting. He was loved around the world, and is truly missed. Read more about McGarry's passing here.
14. 2016 OPENING WEEKEND RECAP: Angel Fire Bike Park
Every year, Angel Fire Bike Park in Northern New Mexico is one of the first resorts to fire up the lifts in the southern Rockies. We once again made the pilgrimage to the rider-voted three-time "Best of the Southwest" for opening weekend, and we have the pictures to prove it. Click here to see more.
This early season preview from Angel Fire also earned quite a few clicks.
13. ALL-TIME FALL TIME: Late Season MTBparks Pass Ride Guide
The dirt is good. The weather's better. We think there's no better time than autumn to hit the road and rack up laps on some of our favorite lift-served bike parks in North America. Apparently you agree, because our 2016 Late Season Ride Guide is number 13 on the list.
12. TAMARACK BOUNCES BACK: Revisiting a Resurrected Idaho Icon
Tamarack Bike Park fired up its lifts this summer for the first time in nearly a decade. The original incarnation was loved by many in the area's gravity scene, and while it is undoubtedly an entirely new experience for many riders, for some, like MTBparks Pass member Mitchell Bliss, it's a rip down memory lane. Click here to check out his account.
The news of its triumphant return in 2016 garnered quite a few views as well.
11. VIDEO: 'Black Magic' - Tyler McCaul Rides Killington Bike Park
MTBparks' own ambassador Samantha Kingshill happened to make her own Killington edit this season as well on the Pro GRT course.
Killington's Last Chair Alert and the announcements for its first and second bonus weekends saw an exceptional amount of traffic as well, going to show just how dedicated Vermont riders are to shredding the "Beast of the East" as long as possible each season.
10. PICKLEBACK: Bryce Bike Park Unveils Signature Expert Trail
Bryce Bike Park in Virginia brought in the famed Gravity Logic crew during the 2016 season to help sculpt Pickleback, the resort's new signature expert jump trail. With features like a new step-up known as the "Mega-Up," a 50-foot tabletop as well as several drops and wall rides and a massive wooden corkscrew, it's no wonder the news took the number 10 slot.
9. RIDE GUIDE: Taking the Inside Line at Whistler Mountain Bike Park
While guides might be popular on backcountry adventures in unfamiliar areas, whether it's skiing or mountain biking, most of don't consider the option when riding at a resort. But as MTBparks correspondent Nancy Kim found out, it's a great way to make the most of your time on the mountain at Whistler Mountain Bike Park—and even access some restricted areas. Check out the first-hand report that slides into number 9.
8. BREAKING: Hawaii's Bike Park Maui Calls it Quits
OK—maybe Bike Park Maui isn't technically in North America and isn't lift served, but it was a pretty rad place to ride on the island. Unfortunately it closed down for good in 2016. Read more here.
7. BREAKING: Massanutten Announces Virginia Bike Park
The last seasons have seen more bike parks opening than ever before in North America and 2016 was no exception. It was, however, news of Virginia's newest lift-served downhill bike park that racked up enough clicks for the 7th spot on our list. Read more here.
6. JUST THE BEGINNING: Trestle Bike Park to Open First of Phase 2 Expansion Trails
Trestle Bike Park, consistently ranked number 1 in the Rocky Mountain region, isn't showing any signs of resting on its laurels. News of the first trails of its backside expansion opening earlier this season were enough to snag the number 6 spot in our countdown of most read stories of 2016.
5. 2016 RAMPAGE: Spectator Tickets On Sale Tomorrow
The announcement that tickets were going on sale was enough to drive so much traffic it earned the news the 5th spot in our Top 20. While not exactly bike park related, it's one of our favorite events every year.
4. VIDEO: One Lap on Thunder Mountain's Expert Jump Trail 'Hawleywood'
And the number 4 spot on our countdown of the most read stories of 2016 goes to this POV lap on Hawleywood, the newest expert jump trail at Thunder Mountain Bike Park. Built by none other than the shred experts at Gravity Logic, the trail is a crowning achievement by the Massachusettes bike park that took the New England downhill scene by storm in 2015.
3. BREAKING: Vail Resorts to Buy Whistler for $1.06 Billion
Other big Whistler news this year included the announcement of its $345-million Renaissance Plan as well as the follow-up detailing what that meant for the bike park.
2. 2016 MTBPARKS PASS RETURNS: One Pass Offers Free Lift Tickets, Discounts and More at Bike Parks Across North America
1. 2015 RIDERS' CHOICE AWARDS: MTBparks Reveals North America's Best Bike Parks
And the number 1 spot goes to the results of our annual Riders' Choice Awards. Every year, we launch a survey that gives riders the chance to vote for their favorite bike parks. This represents the winners of 2015's best bike parks (which were revealed spring 2016), and voting for 2016's best bike parks begins soon.
-by Don Stefanovich
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