The Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics snowboard halfpipe at Park City Mountain Resort is going to be demolished not once, but twice. Sound strange? It is, but that’s what happens when your resort is hosting the snowboard venues at The Games. Don’t worry, it’ll be rebuilt, but it’s an interesting side note to the production involved with the granddaddy of all international competition. Good thing it only happens once every four years.
Here’s the scenario: Park City will be holding both the halfpipe and the Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS) snowboard events at the New Eagle Race Arena (and Alpine Giant Slalom). The men’s and women’s halfpipe competitions will be held first, and then the gate-bashing PGS will be held several days later.
At the bottom of the area, a 10,000-person stadium will be built, with the New Eagle Super Pipe rising just above it. The PGS race (and GS skiers later in the week) will finishing right in front of the stadium as well¿right where the pipe is. So instead of building another stadium, plans are to plow under what will be one of the most-famous, photographed, and talked-about snowboard halfpipes ever so the speed suits can finish in the same location.
Believe it or not, the whole event is going to be simulated this week during the Nokia FIS Snowboard World Cup (called the X-Nix “Countdown to Gold”).
The New Eagle Super Pipe, which has been built with massive amounts of snow and open to the public for the last several months, will be host to the men’s and women’s halfpipe events on Thursday, March 1. As soon as the show is over, the plows will head out and flatten the whole thing to make way for finishing hardbooters who practice on Saturday and race on Sunday.
Good halfpipes are tough to make, and according to sources at Park City, tremendous resources were devoted to building the New Eagle Super Pipe. (And it’s a definitely one of the top five in the country right now. I got to session it Saturday afternoon for several hours and it was sweet.)
Pipe-building wizard Pat Melandowski has been commissioned to shape the Olympic pipe next year and polish up the World Cup tube this week. This guy spends hours each night staying up late, carving a pipe to perfection. If the riders don’t like it, he’s the first to hear. It’ll be a shame that his efforts, and everyone at the resort who helped build this pipe, will be destroyed so quickly for a discipline of snowboarding that represents less than three percent of the worldwide market.
Although plans aren’t definite, Park City Mountain Resort President and General Manager has suggested that the pipe will be rebuilt following the FIS World Cup and also after the Olympics. And it should be for several reasons.
With few exceptions, the riders probably haven’t spent any time getting used to this pipe. Depending on when they arrive into Park City this week, they’ll only have several days to practice in it. It’d be nice if they could hold some spring and fall training sessions in it to get more dialed.
In addition, as touted on much of Park City’s literature, the pipe is open to the public. What a great attraction for the resort, letting kids ride the same superpipe that Ross Powers, Todd Richards, Shaun White, or Danny Kass (or pick your favorite pro) win the gold medal in?
Transworldsnowboarding.com will be at Park City this week to follow the action, and destruction, that’s going to take place.