Let’s face it, when snowboarding, anything that isn’t flat creates an almost over powering urge to try to ride and half pipes are no exception to this. After gazing upon the glory of a half pipe it is almost impossible to resist the urge to challenge it, to see what you can do in it or to see if you too are as good as the guy who is doing a Slob Air. It is this desire that keeps us snowboarding and drives us to try new things such as a half pipe.
Half pipes can be very daunting features of a snowboarding park. A half pipe will be 4 – 12 feet high, may have 3 sides in a "U" like shape and be full of people doing crazy stunts in the air at high speeds. The big question is how do you learn to use a half pipe?
While the prospects of dropping in to a half pipe can be very daunting, the reality is that you can ease in to riding the half pipe. In fact, the preparation for riding a half pipe begins well before you ever enter it. While it is highly recommended that you are proficient at snowboarding on general terrain before trying a half pipe you can start off in a half pipe.
There are two basic skills that you need to know fairly well, hop turns, or Bunny hops, and how to snowboard confidently on varying terrain. Your confidence in snowboarding really is the key to moving on. You must be able to recover your balance on bumpy terrain when riding quickly. This ability will allow you to proactively react to the rapidly changing conditions of a half pipe. To be fair, the conditions of the half pipe do not change rather your position in the pipe changes. Remember that your speeds in a half pipe are faster than normal and thus you must be able to react to riding on a transition rather than the flat very quickly. The other basic skill is the Bunny hop. The Bunny hop allows you to launch a little higher and away from the lip of the ramp thus keeping you from catching it when you re-enter the ramp.
The next big hurtle is dropping in. When you are first learning to ride a half pipe it is best to start on the side of the smallest ramp rather than from the top of the ramp. This will give you a chance to get used to the ramp and learn how to pump it for speed and balance. As your confidence increases begin dropping in from higher and higher points until you are ready to start from the top of the pipe.
Half pipes can be daunting features of the terrain but learning to ride them doesn’t have to be tough. By working with the basic skills that you already have you will be able to rider a half pipe well. The more you ride the half pipe and challenge yourself the faster your skills in it will progress. When looking at the half pipe for the first time, do not back down. Instead resolve to be the best damn snowboarder there and push yourself, as hard as you can and soon you will be the best snowboarder there.