Conquer the Superpipe | Get Out | Salt Lake City Weekly

Conquer the Superpipe 

Some advice to help you take the plunge

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click to enlarge Alex Schlopy on the superpipe - WINA STURGEON
  • Wina Sturgeon
  • Alex Schlopy on the superpipe

There are many good ways to begin the new year—resolutions included—but one of the most powerful is to take on a new adventure that stretches and pushes your boundaries of courage and daring.

Which brings me to the Olympic superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort, the only one in Utah. Regular rippers who fly out of the pipe and flip know that a superpipe is something special. But with towering 22-foot-high walls of ice, wider and longer than regular halfpipes, a lot of skiers and snowboarders are too intimidated to even try it.

If you’re a snowrider who has never experienced this Olympic legacy, you’re missing out on something that, while perhaps scary, is also a lot of fun. Plus, if you’re not the adventurous sort on snow, giving the superpipe a try will build your self-esteem. You don’t even have to try the walls; a ride along the flat bottom is as easy as a green run, and a good beginning. Ramp it up at your own speed, and take the advice of three different piperiders: a well-known international coach and ski technician for elite ski and board cross athletes, a slopestyle champion who started out competing in halfpipe, and the head coach of the Park City Snowboard Team.

Jeff Sadis, an international coach and ski technician, still rides the pipe for fun. Now on his way to Europe for the start of the World Cup ski cross season, he advises superpipe newbies that it’s “really just about not hesitating. Stand at the top of the pipe, look at where you want to go, and just start down. Don’t hesitate. The only time you get hurt is when you hesitate. You have to be assertive, not timid. Look where you want to go; your skis or board will follow.”

Alex Schlopy, who has won slopestyle gold at both the Dew Tour and the X Games, has tips on how to handle your head in the pipe if you’re not an expert snowrider. “First thing, don’t be scared of how big it is,” he says. “Just go up the walls as high as you dare. You can improve with each run. Look down the pipe, ride mellow and get the feel. Once you feel comfortable, start going higher up the wall.

“If you’re running out of momentum riding up the wall, or running into fear, just turn and go back down. As for turning to go back down the wall, it’s more of a pointed apex as opposed to a round turn. To make a turn … aim your shoulders in the direction you want to go. If you want to get back down to the bottom of the pipe, remember: Gravity is your friend.”

Dave Reynolds, head coach of the Park City Snowboard Team, trains kids as young as 8 to ride the superpipe, so he knows what those new to the big ice walls need to do. His first point of advice: Take it slow. “If you think you’re going slow, go even slower,” he says. “The pipe is a lot of fun, but it’s also technique-based. It’s easy to get in over your head. Just try and go higher up [the wall] a little bit more with each run.

“Be confident,” he adds. “When you get scared, you get stiff. When you get stiff, you lose control. If you realize you’re stiff, just slow down. Go at a speed you’re comfortable with in the beginning. You won’t get anything out of it if you’re running scared. With each run you take, you’ll get better. No matter whether you make it to the deck or crash, each time you experience it, you learn something.”

As a caveat, I am taking my own advice to start a new adventure as the new year begins. This will be my final column for City Weekly. I can’t express how much I have learned over the years of writing Get Out, and how much I will miss it, but now I am throwing myself out into the wide world to see what other adventures await. May 2013 be a year of growth, happiness and adventure for you all.

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About The Author

Wina Sturgeon

Wina Sturgeon is an outdoor adventurer and a Salt Lake City freelance writer.

More by Wina Sturgeon

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