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What to do when you get up to the rim of the pipe?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Got a question about pipe technique. First, let me state that I ain't a kid, don't huck big air, don't grind rails, I'm a forty-something, 1.5 day a week ski instructor but I like doing the pipe.

I first did pipe when taking Skiing Dev I a couple years ago at Sunday River. I learned to just make a nice round ski turn on the side of the pipe. I've been working up higher and higher and now can get all the way up to the rim. Thing is, I don't know how to turn once I get my skis halfway out of the pipe. Looking at the park rats, it seems like you gotta do something other than a ski turn once you get up that high. Seems like there's unweighting til your skis are virtually off the snow and then rotary, like your turning in the air even if you aren't all the way above the rim.

Can someone explain the sequence of moves to make a turn in the pipe once your up to the rim.

Mount Wa
post #2 of 6
I got taught to plant pole & then rotate body & jump & turn... only got to do that part way up wall - but they assured me that I did the same at top... The rotate body is opposite to normal turns of course - when you keep it all nice & still...
post #3 of 6
Great question, L2T. Beginning in the Half Pipe is a revelation for many people, but it is really pretty easy to do some basic moves. The pipe itself can be pretty intimidating at first, especially the big SuperPipes at some of the bigger ski areas. But you will get used to it quickly. Ironically, the biggest pipes are usually the easiest to play in, because they are well-maintained, the walls are vertical (non-vertical walls can launch you right out of the pipe), and the transitions at the bottom of the walls are smoother and more gradual.

First, you are absolutely right that, once you get high up on the vertical part of the wall, you can't just steer "regular" ski turns, and you certainly can't steer turns when you're in the air above the rim. The "weightless" turns that are basic to the Half Pipe break most of the rules of good steered turns. Whereas most modern skiing involves active feet and legs working beneath a stable, disciplined upper body, the basic Half Pipe move comes entirely from the upper body.

Think of it as a hop turn, in which you leap to become weightless while rotating your arms and/or torso to throw yourself into a spin once you leave the ground. Except it's easier than that in the Half Pipe--you're already going straight up, so you don't need to hop. Head straight up the wall. Just before you stall out, rotate your arms and torso slightly, to throw yourself into a nice 180 degree spin during the "weightless" phase. You do NOT need to clear the rim to do this, and I recommend that you develop the move lower down before attempting to clear the rim. You DO want to get at least to the vertical part of the wall, though, so that you are moving straight up. Be patient, wait until you feel almost weightless, then throw 'em around. It takes very little effort.

When you are ready to clear the rim, remember one very important thing: whatever you do to make the turn must happen when your skis are still in contact with the snow! In other words, the rotation of the upper body that throws you into the spin must happen while you're still on the snow. Once you're in the air, it is too late!

Pole plants are not forbidden in most Half Pipes, but they are discouraged (they damage the walls), and they are unnecessary. In fact, they can throw you off. If you learn to rely on a blocking pole plant to help your turns lower on the wall, you'll be in for a surprise once you're in the air above the rim!

Here are a couple thoughts for Half Pipe beginners:

Pay attention to the etiquette and safety rules of the park. Make sure others are aware that you are "dropping in."

Head straight up the wall! Conservative beginners are often reluctant to do this, because it can be intimidating, so they head up at about 45 degrees. But straight up is the most conservative direction, by far! If you angle downhill, you will not lose as much speed, and you'll gain a whole lot more speed as you come back down. Remember that the Pipe itself is on a hill, often fairly steep. If you head "downpipe," you will go FAST. So straight up, with a 180 degree turn back down and up the other side is the most cautious tactic. Head downpipe and gain speed only when you're ready!

Another common mistake is to make a big hop off the vertical part of the wall. As I described above, you don't need to hop, because you're already moving straight up. If you DO make a big hop, it will push you horizontally, away from the vertical wall, and you risk a big, hard fall into the bottom of the pipe.

Look straight up toward the rim as you approach the wall--not down at your ski tips, or at the middle of the wall. Looking up will help your body move as it needs to, more-or-less perpendicular to the snow surface all the way.

Have fun in the Half Pipe. It is a new environment for many of us (myself included), but it can be a lot of fun. Take it slow at first, and build as your confidence and skill develop. The suggestions I've given you above are mostly my own observations from playing a bit in the Pipe a little this year, and working with instructors who now have to do some basic Half Pipe moves to pass their Level 3 (Full) certification exams here in Colorado.


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 6
Here's a really cool technique that I invented this year. And it was only my third time ever in the pipe (with no instruction) -- can you believe it?!

Just as your skis begin to breach the lip, throw your hands in the air, lean back, and stand up.

This move is guaranteed to elicit laughter and applause from any and all bystanders. And really, what's more fun than summersaulting backwards down the side of a super pipe?

Have fun!

Disclaimer: I, too, am neither a kid, nor a hucker, nor a grinder. But I've never felt younger than that day in the pipe.
post #5 of 6

Although Bob has given a detailed how to, sometimes you need a trick instead. Turning your head to look back down the pipe sometimes is the thought trick that makes all the other stuff happen without thinking.
post #6 of 6
The only thing I might throw into this, as you begin to go up the wall and progress up it, allow your body to stay 90deg from the wall, if you lean forward you will just pop out of the pipe and end up on the deck, if you lean back you will end up on your head in the bottom of the pipe.

In reality the pipe is not technically very difficult for the basics, but once you get into the tricks, that's a whole nother story.
The biggest thing that holds many people back is fear, nothing we say can get you over that completly, but if you can go out there and give it a shot it will get easier the more you try.

As mentioned above, look in the direction you want to go, it's like a 360, as long as you keep looking at where you want to go, you will continue in that direction, well.... if your still in the air at that time.
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