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New superpipe helps Aspen’s Buttermilk stand out

Paul Conrad/The Aspen TimesButtermilk's new superpipe looms over the Inn of Aspen on Saturday afternoon. The pipe is 500 feet long, 85 feet wide and 21 feet deep.
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ASPEN, Colorado ” It just keeps getting more extreme at Buttermilk.

Crews this month finished a $775,000 supersizing of the Aspen superpipe, which now stands 4 feet taller and is Olympic size in terms of training and competing.

This season, Buttermilk will unveil the new 22-foot halfpipe. It’s more than 500 feet long, with walls towering 18 feet overhead and measuring 22 feet from the center of the pipe. It’s 2 degrees steeper than the old 18-foot superpipe, which was built in 2005.



“It increases the difficulty; they have to go faster in this pipe, and they’ll get bigger air,” said Greg Boyd, terrain park manager for the Aspen Skiing Co. “You feel little in those pipes as it is, and now you’ll feel even smaller.”

Buttermilk is only one of a handful of resorts around the country that can boast such an amenity. A new trend in the industry is to have superpipes match the requirements of the Olympics, Boyd said. The larger superpipe will make its competition debut at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.



“We’re trying to keep up with the Joneses,” Boyd said, adding Buttermilk is one of five resorts at which athletes can train for the Olympics.

That makes it convenient for Snowmass resident and 2006 silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler. She said there’s only a few places to train, and now her hometown will be one of them.

“The 22-foot halfpipe is the most progressive halfpipe at this point,” she said Sunday from San Diego. “I’m happy that Aspen has stepped up.”



Bleiler returns to Aspen on Dec. 1 and competes in Breckenridge a couple of days later.

The Buttermilk pipe was recently named No. 1 in North America by Transworld Magazine, based on a resort poll in which more than 1,600 readers cast their votes.

Readers were given the opportunity to vote on the three best resorts they visited during the 2007-08 season, ranking them in 21 categories. Some 154 resorts across North America and Canada were judged.

This is what was said about Buttermilk on snowboarding.transworld.net: “The sleeping giant of Buttermilk awoke this year with a roar. The 500-foot long, 85-foot wide, and 21-foot deep superpipe residing in the hills of Aspen is not only the largest pipe in the Rockies, but is also the Resort Poll’s number one pipe. The success of this beast lies in the dirt foundation with the grooming equipment to match, the right amount of sunlight (the pipe runs southwest to northeast), and above all, the park staff’s commitment to precision sculpting. Shapers Yannick Rioux and Kyle Bradley relied on an 18-foot Zaugg Pipe Monster to slice clean transitions this past year and they’re gearing up for an even better pipe this year with a 22-foot cutter to match the newly shaped dirt foundation. The park crew’s crucial decision to close the pipe in the early afternoon (around 2 p.m.) throughout the winter kept the pipe from getting too sloppy and allowed it to maintain its consistently consistent shape, says Terrain Park Manager Greg Boyd.”

Boyd told The Aspen Times that before this year, none of Skico’s pipes had ever been ranked. Snowmass also made Transworld’s top 10 this year.

csack@aspentimes.com


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