Half-pipe skiing is the sport of riding snow skis on a half-pipe. Competitors perform a series of tricks while going down the pipe. The current world record for highest jump in a half-pipe is held by Joffrey Pollet-Villard, with 26 feet 3 inches (8.00 metres). The sport is considered to be dangerous compared to other sports, and helmets are required to be worn during competitions. Half-pipe skiing has been part of the Winter X Games since 2002, and made its Olympic debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. David Wise of the United States of America became the first Olympic champion in this discipline with a total of 92.00 points.
Half-pipe skiing at the World Skiing Invitational
|Highest governing body||International Ski Federation|
Origins of the snow half-pipe
In the early days of skiing and snowboarding ski resorts were very reluctant to allow snowboarders on the mountain. Two Lake Tahoe locals, Bob Klein and Mark Anolik, were hiking around Tahoe City in 1979, looking for places to practice snowboarding as all mountains in the area still didn’t allow snowboarding. They found an area in land owned by the Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Company and started using its natural half pipe. News of the halfpipe quickly spread throughout the Lake Tahoe community and the spot became a popular destination for snowboard and enthusiasts. It was known in the area as the Tahoe City Pipe. The spot also became popular amongst skateboarders.
Four years after the discovery of the world’s first half-pipe, Tom Sims organized the first World Championships at Soda Springs, California where the first man-made halfpipe was constructed. The first couple of half-pipe championships were met with trouble constructing a perfect half-pipe, as it had never been done before. Eventually, Sims moved it towards the bottom of the resort to make it less steep and more rideable for snowboarders controlling their speed. In 1986, the World Championship moved to Breckenridge, Colorado. Again, they were met with trouble constructing the half-pipe as the employees in Breckenridge had never constructed and most even seen a half-pipe. After the competition the half-pipe was left up, becoming the first permanent pipe at a resort and began spreading the awareness of half-pipes. By 1988, halfpipes had become media magnets. From all over the world, magazines, television shows, and newspapers wanted to do stories on the perceived, insane snowboarders riding the halfpipe.
In 1991, Doug Waugh, a machinery mechanic came out with a machine, the Pipe Dragon, that could groom the slopes on a curve and was instrumental in making half-pipes constructible. The Pipe Dragon was used at all major resorts across Colorado and the West Coast and led to the mainstream culture of half pipes. Now most every major ski resort in the nation and the world has a half-pipe at some part of the season, if not for the entire season. Many of these resorts also hold local competitions on these half-pipes. Though the half pipe was mainly seen as a snowboarding activity it grew more popular amongst skiers as the X Games became more popular in the 2000’s. In 2014, at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the skiing halfpipe competition debuted.
Half-pipe skiing was formally endorsed by the International Ski Federation in June 2010, and was approved by the International Olympic Committee in April 2011 to be an official sport 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It has been a part of the Winter Dew Tour, the World Skiing Invitational, and the inaugural 2012 Winter Youth Olympics. The current world record for the highest half-pipe ski jump was set in 2015, and is held by Joffrey Pollet-Villard with 26 feet and 3 inches (8.00 metres).
Superpipe skiing is an alternate form of half-pipe skiing that utilizes a superpipe (large halfpipe used in extreme sports), instead of a half-pipe. It has been a part of the Winter X Games since 2002. The 2012 Winter X Games champion was David Wise with a high score of 93.00.
Half-pipe skiing is considered to be a dangerous sport compared to other forms of skiing. In January 2012, Sarah Burke died due to injuries suffered during a training accident. Helmets are required during competition, and there are airbags on the sides of pipes during practice runs. Colorado governor Bill Owens signed a law which protected ski-resorts from injury-related lawsuits.
As the halfpipe in both skiing and snowboarding has begun more popular, the tricks and maneuvers have become more complicated leading to higher risk of injuries. In addition, improved technique, equipment and training have improved the aerodynamics of the users flying abilities. This has led to faster and higher elevation tricks which has also increased the amount of injuries.
- "A History of the Snowboard Halfpipe". Snowboarder Magazine. 1996-12-01. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
- "Winter Olympic Halfpipe | Everything You Need to Know Before Watching the Games". Mpora. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
- Symms, John. "FIS endorses Ski Halfpipe for Olympics — ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- "IOC approves ski Halfpipe for 2014 Winter Olympics; postpones decision on Ski and Snowboard Slopestyle — ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2011-04-06. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- "2012 Winter Dew Tour Snowbasin freeski coverage — ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- "AFP World Championships starts Thursday in Whistler - ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "World Skiing Invitational coming to Whistler this week - ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2011-04-24. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Innsbruck 2012. "Freestyle Skiing". Innsbruck 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- "2011 Winter X Games preview: Men's Ski SuperPipe - ESPN". Espn.go.com. 2011-01-28. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- Bien, Louis (2012-01-28). "Winter X Games 2012, Men's Ski SuperPipe Final: David Wise Takes Home The Gold". SBNation.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- powder.com published: January 28, 2012 (2012-01-28). "Men's Halfpipe Finals | POWDER Magazine". Powdermag.com. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Robert J. Johnson; Jasper E. Shealy; T. Yamagishi (1 January 2006). Skiing Trauma and Safety. ASTM International. pp. 22–. ISBN 978-0-8031-3400-3. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- Keh, Andrew (2012-01-19). "Sarah Burke, Canadian Freestyle Skier, Dies of Injuries". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- "Canadian skier Sarah Burke dies from injuries sustained in superpipe accident". Fox News. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
- Skiing. October 2004. p. 38. ISSN 0037-6264. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
- Basu, Tanya (2018-02-13). "Snowboarding's Sick Tricks Can Be Shockingly Dangerous". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
- wiki.fis-ski.com - The resource of information and knowledge on Freestyle Skiing, Ski Jumping, FIS World Ski Championships, FIS Leaders Seminar, FIS Ladies Seminar
- fisfreestyle.com FIS Freestyle News, Calendar, Rules and Results
- www.freestyleski.com - The official site of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. Your source for moguls, aerials, halfpipe and slopestyle skiing in Canada.
- History of Freestyle - The history of freestyle skiing.
- Freestyle Ski Disciplines - Freestyle skiing disciplines explained.