Ski halfpipe made its Olympic debut in 2014
Halfpipes originated from surfing and then skateboarding when surfers in California decided that trying to skate in some huge storm drains and empty swimming pools might be a fun thing to do when the waves weren’t pumping. This eventually evolved into skate-specific halfpipe so the athletes could “drop in” (start off on the lip of the pipe).
Skateboarding moved over to the white waves when the snowboard was introduced and the boarders decided they wanted to bring what they had perfected on concrete over to the snow. To make a long story short, skiers saw the boarders flying out of the pipe and felt the desire to go higher. Voila! A new discipline was born.
As the sport has evolved, so have the tricks. Whereas a few years ago 1 1/2 spins and a bunch of grabs were the tricks of the day, now it is not uncommon to see two or three tricks involving two-and-a-half spins as well as double flips or variations of singles in one run. To match the evolution of the tricks, the pipe has been getting bigger and the standard competition pipe is now 22 meters wide..
In competition athletes are judged on:
Amplitude: How much air athletes get out of the pipe
DD: The degree of difficulty of the tricks they perform
Execution: How well the athletes perform their tricks
Overall: The whole package, including the athlete’s personality and style. This includes the grabs and positions that athletes add to the tricks to make them their own.
Pipe Specs (Average)
Length: 150 meters
Slope: 16 degrees
Vertical incline: 83 degrees
Width: 22 meters
Flair: Back flip with a half-twist.
Corked: Describes any kind of spin or flip that is performed between the vertical and horizontal axes (either upright or inverted).
McTwist: Tilted front flip with one-and-a half spins.
540, 720, 900, 1080: 1.5, 2, 2.5 and 3 spins, respectively.
Grab: Any part of the ski or binding that is grabbed by the hand — there are Tail, Mute, Japan and Toxic grabs in addition to a whole mess of others, all which add flavor to the tricks. Most halfpipe tricks include grabs.
Ally-Oop: A trick that spins away from the fall line of the pipe.
Coping: The edge of the pipe.
Deck: The flat areas on the sides of the pipe.
Walls: The sides of the pipe.
Flat: The bottom of the pipe.
Transition: The area between the Wall and the Flat.