The first ever Halfpipes were natural wind lips (Quarterpipes) where riders would ride up and down the transition in a surf style. Over the next few years these natural waves of snow evolved into man-made quarter pipes running side by side. Competitions were formed and riders travelled between the two Quarterpipes performing tricks as they went. The top of each quarter was only a couple of feet off the ground and a few 360 degree spins would have got you first place.
Today’s modern Superpipe is an entirely different beast with 6.7m high quarters, 20m of flat between each wall and 180m of pipe. This all results in longer air time for athletes to perform more spins and complicated tricks . However, it also raises the stakes, with a fall from this height having the potential to cause serious injury.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Halfpipe competition is taking place at Phoenix Snow Park, along with the Slopestyle and Ski/Snowboard Cross.
Resorts use a specially adapted Piste Basher to build modern-day superpipes, using an extended arm to carve into mounds of snow - creating a smooth curve down the slope.
How does the scoring system work?
Each rider gets two runs down the Halfpipe where six Judges assess their performance on four factors.
- Height of airs
- Degree of difficulty
Each judge submits a score with the highest and lowest scores discounted. The four remaining scores are averaged out and that makes up the score for that run. A maximum score of 100 is possible for a run with an athlete’s single best-run counting as their final score.
- Lip: The top edge of the Halfpipe wall
- Transition (Tranny): The curved section of a Halfpipe, between the flat bottom and the vertical wall
- Wall: The vertical section of a Halfpipe
- Alley-Oop: An athlete rides up the transition and goes above the lip into the air rotating 180 degrees or more in the uphill direction
- Air-to-Fakie: An athlete rides up the transition and travels above the lip, not rotation is performed, and lands back on the wall riding backwards
- Hang/Air Time: The amount of time spent above the lip of the half pipe in the air
- Line: A rider's chosen path
- Goofy or Regular (snowboard specific): The athlete’s left foot is at the front of the snowboard (regular). Goofy is with the right front at the front of the board.
- Fakie or Switch: A skier or snowboarder is riding in the same direction but with their body facing the opposite direction to normal (i.e. skiing backwards)
- Left Side Spin (ski specific): A skier rotates in the air to their left side (anti-clockwise direction)
- Right Side Spin (ski specific): A skier rotates in the air to their right side (clockwise direction)
- Backside Rotation (snowboard specific): A snowboarder rotates in the air with their back driving the rotation. i.e. a regular snowboarder backside spin will be in a clockwise direction
- Frontside Rotation (snowboard specific): a snowboarder rotates in the air with their chest driving the rotation. i.e. for a regular snowboarder a frontside spin will be in an anti-clockwise direction
- Stomp:A solid landing
- Method Air: A common trick that you will s a lot of snowboarders perform. Both knees are bent, the front hand grabs the heel edge, and the board is pulled level with the head.
- Iron Cross: A skier will cross over their ski making an ‘X’ shape while in the air - this adds difficulty to any trick or rotation increasing the point received for that manoeuvre
Who won in Sochi 2014?
2014 Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe Gold Medal:
Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) 94.75
2014 Men’s Ski Halfpipe Gold Medal:
David Wise (USA) 92.00
2014 Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe Gold Medal:
Kaitlyn Farrington (USA) 91.75
2014 Women's Ski Halfpipe Gold Medal:
Maddie Bowman (USA) 89.00
British hopefuls to watch out for
Rowan Cheshire: Made it to Sochi in 2014 only to crash heavily in practice. Her concussion deemed it unsafe for her to compete.
Molly Summerhayes: Younger sister to GB Park and Pipe team member Katie Summerhayes, Molly has progressed from the junior circuit to international and is showing strong form as the Olympics approach .
Madi Rowlands: Took gold in the Youth olympics in 2016 and now has her sights firmly set on Pyeongchang
Peter Speight: Has been a regular on the World Cup Tour for a few years now, consistently delivering strong performances and competing with the best in the business.
PyeongChang 2018 Halfpipe dates and times
*(PyeongChang is 9 hours ahead of the UK)
Feb 12 - Snowboard
- Women's Halfpipe Qualification - Phoenix Snow Park 13:30-15:00 (UK 04.30 – 06:00)
Feb 13 - Snowboard
- Women's Halfpipe Finals - Phoenix Snow Park 10:00-11:40 (UK 01.00 – 02:40)
- Men's Halfpipe Qualifications - Phoenix Snow Park 13:00-14:50 (UK 04.00 – 05:50)
Feb 14 - Snowboard
- Men's Halfpipe Finals - Phoenix Snow Park 10:30-12:10 (UK 01.30 – 03:10)
Feb 19 - Freestyle Skiing
- Women's Halfpipe Qualifications - Phoenix Snow Park 10:00-11:25 (UK 01.00 – 02:25)
Feb 20 - Freestyle Skiing
- Women’s Ski Halfpipe Finals - Phoenix Snow Park 10:30-11:55 (UK 01.30 – 02:55)
- Men's Halfpipe Qualifications - Phoenix Snow Park 13:00-14:45 (UK 04.00 – 05:45)
Feb 22 - Freestyle Skiing
- Men’s Ski Halfpipe Finals - Phoenix Snow Park 11:30-13:00 (UK 01.30 – 04.30)
Find out more about our PyeongChang hopefuls and #WhatItTakes to become an Olympian.