Shedders will be smoking a new pipe By Don Anderson Snowboarders won’t be overlooked in the bag of goodies being handed out by Whistler/Blackcomb this season. While visitors to Whistler Mountain will be greeted by a new $9.2 million, 1,700-seat Roundhouse Lodge, shredders heading to the ‘Comb will get a sporty new World Cup halfpipe. It may not sound like much when you compare these two capital improvements, but the new halfpipe on Blackcomb will give boarders a taste of what it’s like to turn tricks on a FIS-approved pipe. The new halfpipe is located below the tree line at the bottom of the terrain park on Choker. The pipe is roughly in the same location where daily snowfall readings are taken. At this elevation, snowboarders will experience greater visibility, better snow conditions, and a steeper and longer pitch to ride. Ensuring that the new pipe is filled up with snow will also be less of a concern than with the old pipe, given its location and the snowmaking opportunities. Paul Skelton, mountain manager for Whistler/Blackcomb, says the pipe will also feature its own viewing deck for spectators. "It has cost us some money but it is money well spent," says Skelton, preferring not to disclose the exact cost of the new pipe. The new pipe is 120 metres long and 12 metres wide, a considerable improvement over the old halfpipe at the top of the Catskinner chair, which was considered steep at the top but flat and narrow around the middle and bottom sections. The old halfpipe will be closed indefinitely. "All the snowboarders have said, ‘Build us one good pipe and make it good all the time’," says Skelton. "And that’s what we’ve done. We’re going to have one awesome pipe these guys are going to love riding." The pipe will be ready for use by the mountain’s Nov. 25 season opener, and will be used for the Dec. 12 World Cup halfpipe event. The halfpipe is one of five World Cup events included in the Hongkong Bank Whistler WinterStart festival, Dec. 4-13. Other World Cup events include the men’s downhill and super G ski races on Whistler Mountain, a snowboard super G on Whistler, and a snowboard-cross event on Blackcomb.