Copper Mountain’s superpipe is the first to open this season in the world |

Copper Mountain’s superpipe is the first to open this season in the world

Paige Blankenbuehler
summit daily news
Special to the Daily/Tripp Fay, Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain has achieved an international feat. Friday morning, the ski area was the first in the world this season to debut a superpipe, with users touting its quality.

Copper’s 22-foot, Olympic-sized superpipe debut Friday brought a large, international crowd to grind edges on the site of the Grand Prix snowboarding event slated for January.

Skiers and riders situated at the pipe mid-day Friday were among a strikingly diverse crowd of approximately 200 that took multiple runs through the feature.

“We’re training,” said Wilmer Hanak, a skier from the Czech Republic. “This is the only place to come right now for riding like this. The ski area did a nice job with opening early.”

Taylor Seaton, a resident of Avon, said the pipe was “absolutely perfect.”

“Every single season, this is where it starts for the halfpipe riders,” he said.

Seaton, who has been a loyal rider of Copper’s superpipe for several years, said the conditions this year are better than they have been in the past.

“They opened it a little later than they did in previous years, but the conditions are great – it was worth waiting, the conditions are perfect on the pipe, the walls are straight and the snow is soft,” Seaton said.

Perfecting opening conditions is a science in itself, but terrain park crews pay close attention to detail and utilize techniques to keep the snow consistency and feel “what the athletes are looking for,” according to Jason George, the terrain park manager.

Copper Mountain started construction Nov. 13. To perfect the final pipe, park builders focused on shaping, according to George.

“Our crews perfected the pipe by making sure measurement and angles are on point and decks were flat and consistent,” he said.

Copper Mountain has specific energy saving guns in place to prepare the superpipe. The builders keep snow quality and maintain great conditions by processing the snow, moving it around and mixing the different snow consistencies, George said.

Creating multiple piles of snow and moving it around often, is how terrain park crews achieved the soft snow conditions for the colossal feature, George said.

Park builders use multiple snowcats to process and move the snow around. Once the snow is in place, crews make cuts with a 22-foot Zaugg, a snowplow used for high-volume snow clearance, to reach the final product.

“Our crew is stoked,” George said. “We are so proud to provide the first superpipe in the country to training athletes and our loyal guests. Our staff will continue to cut and maintain the pipe while paying attention to detail.”

Top athletes and national teams from around the globe have anxiously waited for the unveiling of the world’s first superpipe this season, ski area officials stated in a press release Friday.

Copper’s 22-foot Main Vein Superpipe will host the first halfpipe freeskiing competition of the season, The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series slated Dec. 8-9.

Both the amateurs and pros are urged to compete.

Copper Mountain will also host the Grand Prix Jan. 9-12. The competition is a five star World Snowboarding and Platinum Association of Freeskiing Professionals event, debuting on the International Ski Federation World Cup schedule in both freeskiing and snowboarding halfpipe and slopestyle.

“I have been anticipating the start of this season more than any in the past. It’s really exciting to get the ball rolling on the Olympic qualifying process and Copper will be a large part of that,” Jen Hudak, professional halfpipe skier, stated in a release. “Not only is their pipe one of the first to open every year, but they host a Grand Prix event that will earn us qualifying points for our eligibility to compete in the games in 2014. It’s a great place for us to be able to train.”

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