That was, uh, Roast Beef. And that Chicken Salad. Hold off on the McTwist for now and go with the Air To Fakey or a Backside, Frontside.
What may sound like a lunch break to some is actually snowboarder talk around the halfpipe. Shredder's lingo that would, to any skier who might be listening, seem to have no relationship between the name and what was actually happening. Yet, to snowboarders, such airborne moves and unusual names are a creative expression of their sport. A high jump with a grab maneuver on the board no doubt had some connection for the inventor to a roast beef sandwich and a similar move to chicken salad.But come 2002, these names might be talked about as routinely as slalom, cross country or double axle.
Last month, TV viewers got the opportunity to see some of these airborne maneuvers off the halfpipe from Nagano. It was a medal sport there, and it will be a medal sport again in 2002. Between now and then, the art of halfpipe boarding will no doubt mature with many more moves and names, and a lot more interest.
Halfpipe snowboarding is today where figure skating was when it was first introduced into the Games.
Halfpipes resemble what the name suggests, which is a big pipe cut lengthwise and then placed in the ground open side up. They've actually been around at some resorts for several years, but it has only been recently that ski areas have begun to follow strict guidelines on the building of a pipe to meet competitive standards. Those being that it should be about 400 feet long, 50 feet from lip to lip, with 10-foot high walls and cut on an average gradient of 18 degrees.
One such pipe is now in Park City. It is there, says Jeff Boliba, head of the resort's snowboard operations, because as the official venue for the snowboarding events in 2002, the resort wanted to make sure its pipe met Olympic standards . . . "And it does," he freely admitted.
To begin with, the resort purchased the one piece of equipment that was necessary for a good pipe - an HPG or halfpipe grinder, which perfectly sculpt the U-shaped ground structure.
When it came time to build the feature, Boliba found there were two methods. One involved digging a hole the shape of the halfpipe in the ground and then waiting for snow to cover it. The second was to make snow in big piles with snowmaking equipment and then manually craft the halfpipe above ground. Park City opted for the second method.
"We used hundreds of thousands of gallons of water in the beginning to make enough snow. It was easier for us to do it this way because we could make a wetter snow, which is easier to work with. The natural snow here is so light, it's hard to work with. We were finally ready to open on Christmas Day. It was a history-making day for those of us into snowboarding," he said.
Halfpipes were actually borrowed from the U-shaped design of the wooden ramps used by skateboarders. Snowboarders found they could do all of the same maneuvers as skateboarders, with just as much air and practically all of the same twists.
Unlike its younger brother, however, skateboarding is not yet an Olympic event.
Early halfpipes were hand-crafted by snowboarders with shovels. All of the work was, earlier pioneers claimed, worth the few highly charged seconds of air mixed with grabs and no-grabs, spines and twists off the lip of the pipe.
Because the Park City pipe is so technically perfect, said Boliba, it gets well used by those who are very good and able to get big air, to beginners hardly able to make it down one embankment and up the other.
Normally, Boliba's schedule calls for the reshaping and smoothing of the pipe between two and three times a week. Last week, because of the snow and the heavy use, the pipe was groomed every other day.
Maneuvers off the halfpipe are a combination of boarders' creativity and skills. Boliba pointed out that there are some good examples for new boarders to follow. The snowboard team from the National Sports Foundations routinely trains in the pipe. Young pipers are able to watch and then try to imitate the better boarders. Also, the more experienced boards will help by explaining and then demonstrating for their audience.
Then it becomes of matter of practice. . . . Up one side, back down and up the other for a little air and a grab maneuver - usually one of the first - and then down. Up again on the other wall for more air and a spin or no-grab twist this time. And so it goes, like a marble on a rocking ship, back and forth, back and forth. Some air, some twists, some grabs and spins. Boliba says inverted aerials are not allowed on the halfpipe, except during official competition.
Park City is not the only resort with a groomer to sculpture a halfpipe. The Canyons, Brighton and Brian Head also have the specialized groomer. The three resorts also have halfpipes. Several other resorts, even without the groomers, are using more labor-intense methods for building halfpipes.
Over time, Boliba believes that most of the pipes in Utah will be of event quality. And that as more boarders enter the pipes and begin to slide from side to side, the event will only get more exciting and draw more interest. And, no doubt, more creative names.