Half-pipe skiing is cool. But to those of us not involved actively in half-pipe, its relevance only swings through during the major competitions. Half-pipes are becoming more and more rare across the country, with many mountains scrapping them because they cost too much and no one wants to ride them. While many mountains invest more and more in parks, less and less is being invested into half-pipes. The two are separating into different things, it's no longer park and pipe, it is now park and maybe a pipe.
I ski at Copper, which a few of you may know as the first ski resort in the country to open up a half-pipe. This is the first time I ever saw a lot of halfpipe skiers. Kids training for rev tour events or the dew tour, bypassing the park because they are on their pipe skis. "Pipe skis" thats something that will cost a lot. I don't have an extra 700 bills to throw down on a super stiff pipe stick which seems to be pretty necessary for competing at the mid level and higher. It certainly is not necessary for dropping into the 12 or 15 foot pipe at your local hill. I personally have little interest in a 22 foot behemoth, however a 15 foot pipe can be a damn good time. My home mountain scrapped their super-pipe awhile ago, it cost too much, and no one used it but the mini pipe with ranging walls is one of the more popular parts of the park.
A big thing I didn't expect in regards to watching the half-pipe training was the coaches. Real coaches, yelling coaches, angry coaches, coaches who can't even ski. I had a discussion with one coach who actually had been recruited from the gymnastics team of his home country and asked to coach pipe. While riding up the lift he asked me, "Do you know the easiest way down to the pipe?" This is a national team coach. Not an average jabroni wanting to check out the pipe, this is a guy who coaches national athletes as one of the top tier highest paid coaches in the world. A career gymnastics coach recruited to teach half-pipe skiing. Maybe this is fine, that coaches without a ski background are at the highest level, I am not necessarily sure about that.
If we want half-pipe to survive, we need it to be more accessible, we need people to demand a 15 foot pipe at their home mountain, not everyone needs a 22 foot pipe, the same way your local hill doesn't need X-Game size jumps. If we see more and more kids making edits in their smaller local half-pipes we will see more involvement by those looking to mimick it in their own pipes. I gurantee most of you looked up to a bad ass shredder at your home hill and wanted to be like him. If all we see is comp jocks boosting in a 22 foot pipe under the lights at X-Games, we will see an ever widening divide between day to day park skiers and halfpipe skiers. This may mean we are beginning to watch the end of halfpipe.