What qualities do all of these top ten pipes share? They're huge and they're constantly maintained. Want to dial in those spins and increase your air time in the pipe? We suggest you train in the best.
* About The Poll: The online Resort Poll is voted on by both subscribers and the online readers of twsnow.com—in total over 1,600 readers logged on to cast their votes. Readers were given the opportunity to vote on the three best resorts they visited during the 2007/2008 season, ranking them on 21 different categories. Some 154 resorts across North America and Canada were judged, after the numbers were crunched, ten in each category rose to the top.
1. Buttermilk, Colorado
The sleeping giant of Buttermilk awoke this year with a roar. The 500-foot long, 85-foot wide, and 21-foot deep Superpipe residing in the hills of Aspen is not only the largest pipe in the Rockies, but is also the Resort Poll's number one pipe. The success of this beast lies in the dirt foundation with the grooming equipment to match, the right amount of sunlight (the pipe runs southwest to northeast), and above all, the park staff's commitment to precision sculpting. Shapers Yannick Rioux and Kyle Bradley relied on an eighteen-foot Zaugg Pipe Monster to slice clean transitions this past year and they're gearing up for an even better pipe this year with a 22-foot cutter to match the newly shaped dirt foundation. The park crew's crucial decision to close the pipe in the early afternoon (around 2:00 p.m.) throughout the winter kept the pipe from getting too sloppy and allowed it to maintain its consistently consistent shape, says Terrain Park Manager Greg Boyd.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado’s recently relocated Park Lane park on Peak 8 is so primo-just as Donny Stevens. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen
Early snowfall, that crisp Colorado cold, and a reputation backed by years of sculpting experience has the Freeway Superpipe sending riders through some of the best ivory-smooth transitions in the country. Terrain Park Manager Eric Armfield credits cutter Nick Symon for his tedious commitment to every aspect of the pipe (flat bottom, vert walls, deck, et cetera), while Nick adds that working alongside riders to perfect the transitions and vert is what makes the pipe so fun. Breck's pipe reputation is legendary and its quiver of pipes (four on-hill) delivers an array of tranny to suit any rider. Lighting up the U-jump kicks off early with the first big contest of the season, the Chevy Grand Prix (December 13–14, 2008), which rolls out with some of the best riders on the globe.
3. Northstar-At-Tahoe, California
Jussi Oksanen, Northstar-at-Tahoe. PHOTO: Kevin Zacher
3. Northstar-At-Tahoe, California
Snow in Tahoe may be jokingly referred to as Sierra cement, but that's all the better for Northstar's crew of crafty snow masons. They've climbed the ranks year after year, and according to SPT boss Chris Gunnarson, "It's a result of very committed resort management as well as a talented and passionate park crew, led by Chris Castaneda and the Snow Park Technologies team." Enhanced snowmaking over the last few years has allowed the crew to fill the dirt skeleton of Northstar's Superpipe with gleaming walls full of sweet pop while their distinguished pro team including Andy Finch and Chas Guldemond consistently add input to better its features and claim this number three spot.
4. Mammoth Mountain, California
Jonas Michelot, Mammoth Mountain. PHOTO: Tim Peare
Flossing four pipes is not the only reason Mammoth stakes claim as one of the best pipe training grounds in the country. Their Super-Duper pipe rolls in at 600 feet long with twenty-foot walls, and their Superpipe cleans up at 450 feet with fifteen-foot walls. Mammoth also keeps its two smaller pipes fresh on the dailly, so you can work your way up to the big transitions.
5. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C., Canada
It's no wonder Whistler/Blackcomb snags top spots every year in the Resort Poll. The place keeps its pipe on lock with eighteen-foot walls that run 400-plus feet down the hill with loads of snow to keep it rolling late into summer. With the resort climbing straight out of near sea level, the expansive valley below provides a stunning view every time you blast out of the lip.
6. Park City, Utah
All eyes have been on this pipe since the Olympics rolled into town six years ago and sent riders sky high. The park recently supersized the existing Eagle Superpipe to 22- foot transitions, stretching it to over 500 feet long. With pristine snow conditions all winter long, there's no wonder this pipe is home to some of the world's top pros. Look for the Park City All-Star team lighting it up in the mountain's feature film I Ride Park City.
7. Snowmass, Colorado
Terrain Park Manager Isabelle Falardeau's dedicated cutting crew recently partnered up with the SPT (Snow Park Technologies) crew, who helps to buff out this pristine Superpipe in the Blue Grouse Park. An eighteen-foot Zaugg cutter, time spent sweating away in the snowcat, and a favorable climate have all slung this pipe into the ranks.
8. Copper Mountain, Colorado
Over the last three seasons, Copper's Main Vein Superpipe has been the first in North America to open its perfectly dialed transitions. With a throbbing village, load of pros, and events like the Grand Prix and USASA Nationals, the pipe is steaming with energy for the '08/09 season.
9. Bear Mountain, California
When you think about the Southern California skyline, gargantuan mounds of sculpted snow don't usually come to mind, but Bear's advanced snowmaking setup churns out heaps of snow fit for a massive pipe. Bear's 580-foot-long white wall is the jam as SoCal's only in-ground Superpipe, and a pristine one to boot. The walls are always glassy and you'll find 'em rollin' in around triple overhead—every day.
10. Mt. Hood Meadows, Oregon
Meadows, with its 500-foot-long, eighteen-foot-high pipe, provides a flawless playground for blasting consecutive hits. The frame is mined into the ground to provide the earliest opening possible when the Northwest flakes start flying while sculptors Jason Stankevich and Josh King have the accuracy and muscle to keep it polished. This past season's heavy snowfall also kept this giant crevasse open late, and if that's not enough to satisfy your pipe dreams, it's lit up at night.