Arthur Longo defying gravity at the Burton European Open 2015. Photo: Sam McMahon
If you’ve never dropped into the 22-foot-wall of an icy halfpipe, it’s easy to underestimate just what it would take to sail up to three times your own height above the coping. However you look at it, modern halfpipe riding is gnarly.
“That first hit says a lot about a rider’s approach to pipe riding”
Even so, there are those who can live for pumping transition and launching over the heads of the crowd, and have it so dialled that they can bring bags of their own style to every run.
That first hit says a lot about a rider’s approach to pipe riding. Some use the extra amplitude it offers to unleash their techiest tricks, whilst others tweak out a simple grab for maximum steeze points before getting into the spins further down.
Whichever they go for, watching a rider set out their stall with what is usually the highest air in their run is one of life’s pleasures. In no particular order, here’s our top ten:
Shaun White – Backside Air, Burton US Open 2013
It wasn’t for nothing that Shaun White dominated halfpipe for the best part of a decade, occasionally going years without a defeat.
While he sometimes went to the frontside wall for his first hit – in the 2006 Olympics, for example – it was usually a nosebleed-inducing air on the backside wall that served as the harbinger of yet another victory.
Given how dialled he had it, it’s tough to single out just one example, but we’ve gone with this one from the Burton US Open in 2013. It may lack the under-the-floodlights spectacle of some of his other runs, but the camera angle is perfect for appreciating just how massive he goes on that first hit.
Watching this makes us wish he’d put the guitar down and get back in the pipe.