Copper Mountain started diverting snow Wednesday evening near the American Eagle Lift to begin construction of its superpipe, projected to open Thanksgiving weekend.
The six-week construction of the 22-foot pipe will keep Copper snowmaking crews busy working 12-hour shifts making and hauling snow while monitoring the shaping of the feature.
"This is the biggest project for snowmakers," said Michael Ostrout, snow maintenance foreman. "The pressure is really on to get the halfpipe in great shape by the first big holiday weekend."
Once snow is made or has fallen, snowcat drivers push the snow to the location of the pipe. To ensure there are no air pockets, crew members are conscientious about compacting snow, according to Ostrout.
The project of shaping the superpipe generates excitement among crew members, ski area officials, skiers and riders.
"It's so exciting to be back in a snowcat prepping for Copper's Main Vein Superpipe and early season park," said Jason George, terrain park manager. "This time of year, every time we push out a photo socially we get a huge response. It definitely reminds us how hyped people are to get back on the snow."
Once completed, Copper's superpipe generally attracts top skiers and snowboarders from around the globe.
"The Main Vein Superpipe is usually the first to open in the country," said Austyn Williams, spokeswoman for the resort. "Athletes and terrain park enthusiasts come from all over to train and scratch the itch that developed all summer long."
Such athletes will compete in the 2013 U.S. Grand Prix, Jan. 7-12. The event is hosted entirely on the superpipe. In previous years, competitors have included Shaun White, Jess Cumming, Simon Dumont, Louie Vito and Gretchen Bleiler. The Grand Prix will be the first event to take place in the superpipe this season.
"Athletes will compete in their quest for the title of overall champion during the kickoff to America's largest competitive winter sports tour," Williams said.
A first for Copper this season is the ski and snowboard slopestyle disciplines, which will debut in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, alongside another first-time event, ski halfpipe.