What Is A Superpipe In Skiing?

by Frank V. Persall

One of the best things about learning to ski is the sheer number of terrain types at the skiing park. Whether you are just getting into this winter sport or are among one of the top athletes, you will need to be familiar with all types of terrain and feel confident using them. One term you will often hear at a skiing park is superpipe; but what is a superpipe in skiing?

A superpipe is a type of halfpipe that is constructed from snow and features raised sides that must exceed a certain size to be classed as a superpipe. They can be found at the ski park but are also commonly used in competitions for various winter games.

But what we know as a superpipe today may be drastically different from the halfpipes that skiers would have used years ago since the criteria for halfpipes like this has continually changed. Furthermore, depending on which park you visit, the terrain could be very different. 

What Is A Superpipe In Skiing?
What Is A Superpipe In Skiing?

How Big Is A Superpipe

A superpipe, according to the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), has to have a height of at least 22 feet. Much more than this, the recommended width for such halfpipes is 60 feet. But over the years, these figures have constantly altered. 

For example, before the turn of the 21st century, halfpipes were almost always known as a superpipe and the snow walls were 18 feet high. However, after this, when 22ft halfpipes were built, they took the title of superpipe and the smaller ones became the ‘standard’ halfpipe.

What’s more, one should consider the length of these superpipes, some of which can extend up to 600ft and are excellent for those who wish to freestyle. When you visit a ski park, depending on where you are, you may use halfpipes as little as 12 foot right through to 22 foot. However, a typical skiing park will feature superpipes that are 18ft in height. The length will also vary from park to park with some of the smallest superpipes measuring just 400ft. 

What Is A Superpipe Used For?

Superpipes are often featured in skiing competitions where pro-athletes will perform tricks from one wall to the other. This might involve a jump or a series of moves but in the main, time spent on halfpipes is freestyle. The idea is that as you jump from one move to another, a constant and smooth flow is maintained. 

It is also possible to snowboard on this type of terrain but whichever snow-based sport you are interested in, you would need to ‘drop in’ to the halfpipe from the top end. You can enter from either side but it must be at high speed which will allow the athlete to be propelled from wall to wall. While in the air, this is when you can perform tricks, jumps, and ultimately impress the spectators. 

Summary

A superpipe is a particular type of manmade skiing terrain that features heavily sloped walls where skiers and snowboarders can perform high-speed tricks. While there are no official regulations on how high these halfpipes need to be for competitions such as the Olympics, the typical standard is 22ft. 

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About Frank V. Persall

Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.

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