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The Halfpipe

A halfpipe in snowboard and ski terms is literally a halfpipe cut out of the snow. You have likely seen them at resorts you’ve visited and wondered 'what on earth is that for!?'

You might have even seen halfpipes used in skate boarding, which is where the idea came from way back when. Halfpipes started off pretty small at about 12 foot high and were dug out by hand! But these days the standard halfpipe size is 22 foot (that is the just over 2 stories high!) and is cut with a purposefully built, very expensive machine. Have a look at the photo below of the Olympic halfpipe in Vancouver 2010 to help explain a little more.

So how does it work?
Snowboarders and skiers ride from side to side of the halfpipe performing tricks. Each side of the halfpipe has a small part of vertical at the top, this helps the skier or snowboarder to come safely down to land (most of the time) back inside the halfpipe after performing a 'trick' in the air. The 22 feet of sloped wall allows the riders and skiers to land smoothly down without too much impact, although it is not always the case.

Video can always explain better than words... so take a look at this short video of Bex Sinclair riding the halfpipe at the World Champs. Click here to watch. 

Can you give it a try?
Halfpipe riding is not just for the pros, everyone has to start somewhere. If you are a confident rider on blue runs you can certainly give it a try. It would be best to make a start in the halfpipe with an instructor or coach of course, and just remember you are no Shaun White. Start small, you may not even get half way up each wall on your first few goes, which is absolutely fine. The halfpipe takes a long time to progress and get good at, and I am talking years! So don't hold your expectation to high for your first try! Just get in there, give it go and have some fun!

You may like some of our other related blog posts:

  • Snowboarding for the First Time – Should I or Shouldn’t I?
  • Skiing for the First Time - The Learner Skier
  • Skiing and Snowboard Accessories  
  • What Makes Good Ski or Snowboard Pants?

Posted By: Paula Mitchell, @ Thu, 18th Jul 2013

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