Pipe Basics: To The Vert-I-Go

At the top, staring out from among a crowd of people you don’t know, the vertical walls of thehalfpipe can be intimidating. But with a gradual freeriding approach, the pipe can soon be brought intoperspective.To put the halfpipe in freeriding terms, consider each part of it separately: the flatbottom in themiddle (which is no different than a normal run), a wall on either side, and curved transitions connecting theflatbottom to the walls.

Start your progression toward pipe prowess in the flat middle part of the halfpipe. Ride down it like you would any other run, gradually exploring the fringes. Focus on one side of the pipe at a time, using the and lower part of the wall as a bank, changing edges (turning) at your highest point, andcompleting the turn by bending your legs as you ride back down to the flats. As you begin to feelcomfortable with the transition, work up the wall by pointing your board more toward the lip (edge) of thepipe than down the slope toward the flatbottom. Generate the speed you’ll need to go higher up the wall bybending down (with the lower body) in the flatbottom and rising up the transition.

The higher you want to go, the straighter up the wall your board should be pointed. Look to, or even above, the highest point you’d liketo attain to carry the board beyond the confines of the transition (and make the walls seem smaller). Nearthe top (most vertical part) of the wall where you’re almost weightless, it’s fairly easy to try a hop or jumpturn-changing edges in the air. To ride the pipe well takes a lot of practice, but having fun in it only takes onetry, as long as you approach it with a plan.

-Kurt Hoy Kurt lives and rides in Colorado, where he coaches at the Delaney Snowboard Camps.