Today In Stoke: Behind the scenes at the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge
This week, Breckenridge is hosting the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour for the third year in a row. The Nike 6.0 Open runs December 16-19 and, since they've completely redesigned the Freeway terrain park and halfpipe for this year's competition, we headed up for a sneak peek and a quick chat with Breck's Parks & Pipe director Nik Symon on the first day the Breck Freeride team got to test out the new 22-foot superpipe.
Photo by Sarah Austin Breck Freeride team rider Colby West tests out the Dew Tour superpipe
Westword: This thing's enormous! What goes into getting a 22-foot superpipe ready for an event of this caliber and these kind of athletes?
Photo by Sarah Austin Breckenridge Parks & Pipes director Nik Symon oversees preparations for the Winter Dew Tour's Nike 6.0 Open, December 16-19
Nik Simon: The first part of it started over the summer, with some dirt work to build some of the infrastructure so we could save snow and make it more efficient and quicker to build. And then secondly we have our snowmaking crew. They are one of the biggest parts of this, behind the scenes. They made the perfect snow this year and I can't thank them enough. Once we got our snow we started on the right wall, gradually building it up. Then we chainsaw cut it and flipped it to the other side to finish to the left wall. It was about a 5-week build, and then it's a daily process to keep it in good shape.
WW: I'm already hearing people calling this the best pipe ever. To the extent that there are now Olympic standards for halfpipe competitions, what are some of the distinctions that can set a pipe apart from the rest?
NS: Some pipes can be a little too steep, or they can be too flat. Under 17 degrees isn't going to be a lot of fun. In my opinion, the floors and walls are the most important things. If you can't have a floor in the pipe that lets you keep your speed and continue your tricks all the way down, that's a huge deal, and you'd be surprised how many pipes have a bumpy ditch running through the length of the flat-bottom. If the walls aren't straight, then the riders are not going to go for those bigger airs. Snow quality is important, too: We process this snow constantly to give it a chalky feel, so you don't have that blue ice nightmare where you can't get an edge. We want it basically so it looks like sugar. The bottom line is, because of the caliber of riders we're attracting, we have to go for perfection.