Feature | Snowboard

Watch 'Halfpipe Hype' - Olympic Channel's new snowboarding series

A celebration of the joy, fear, and pure love of air is now available, featuring the world’s top halfpipe riders, such as Scotty James, Ayumu Hirano, and more. 

By Ashlee Tulloch ·

Ever wondered what it's like to ride a halfpipe like a pro snowboarder? Well here's your chance.

Our latest Olympic Channel original series, Halfpipe Hype dives into the hearts and minds of some of the worlds best in the sport of snowboarding and reveals the unique experience of flying in the halfpipe.

It features top stars including double Olympic silver medallist Ayumu Hirano, Olympic bronze medallist Scotty James, and fellow Olympians Chase Josey, Maddie Mastro, Taylor Gold, and Pat Burgener.

A different topic is covered in each episode of the 6-part series, that launched on 5th February, a year ahead of the Beijing 2022 Games.

They're all available to watch now for free and without subscription on Olympic Channel.

Everything from the joy of riding, the dangers, the science, the evolution of the sport, and more.

''I've always really enjoyed the technical element of it. The margin for error is very, very little, and I've always really enjoyed that element of risk and having to be very in touch with the halfpipe.'' - Scotty James

Located in Saas Fee, Switzerland, there are also no shortage of stunning visuals.

Halfpipe Hype | Trailer

Experience the unique sensory feeling of flying off the halfpipe with some ...

The joy of riding and flying in snowboard halfpipe

Halfpipe has a big fan base and committed athlete portfolio, but it's not a discipline for beginners.

Many snowboarders will never ride in a halfpipe, so here's how the professionals describe the feeling.

''Halfpipe riding is unique in the way that it allows the riders to pretty much do whatever they want," American Chase Josey shares.

"You're able to separate yourself from the competition by being yourself, by doing something different or unique or just something that speaks to you personally.'' - Chase Josey, Team USA Olympian

''For me, it's a channel of expression. That's where I can really express myself, be myself, and do what I most love.'' - Queralt Castellet, four-time Olympian from Spain.

Halfpipe Hype | The Dangers

Is halfpipe riding the most dangerous Olympic sport? Athletes reveal the da...

The craft and the risk

The science behind the halfpipe is crucial, and cutting the pipe is a fine art.

''The better the shape of the pipe, the better the riders are going to feel. The cleaner your line is through the pipe, the higher you're going to go'' - Chase Blackwell, U.S. snowboard team

While the halfpipe and the equipment used to shape it has evolved over the years, the risk of injury has also increased. As the tricks continue to become more difficult, athletes continue to push the boundaries of what's possible.

''I would say snowboarding ranks as one of the top, if not the top, most dangerous Winter Olympic sports',' the 2010 Winter Olympic finalist Louie Vito shares.

It's not uncommon to see even the most decorated X Games stars, like three-time Olympic champion Shaun White, posting images of gruesome injuries online.

''Slams are very common. It's all just a part of the game," says Scotty James.

"The halfpipe is definitely dangerous. The walls are 22 ft (6.7m) it's pretty much sheet ice, it's about as hard as cement so if you go down it hurts."

"The margin for error is quite high. It's only a centimetre or an inch can put you where you don't want to be or it can put you where you do what to be.'' - Scotty James

Ayumu Hirano on halfpipe hopes

Japan's halfpipe star Ayumu Hirano has claimed back-to-back silver medals in Olympic halfpipe.

The 22-year-old finished runner up to Iouri Podladtchikov at Sochi 2014 and to Shaun White at PyeongChang 2018.

Halfpipe Hype dedicates one episode to Hirano and his quest for Beijing 2022 Olympic gold.

Speaking to Olympic Channel about his second silver, Hirano says, ''Honestly speaking, I thought that was the winning run. I know it may sound petty saying it afterwards, but I think my run was just as good as Shaun's that day.''

Along with snowboarding, he shares a talent and passion for skateboarding. The Japanese hopeful believes the facilities his father built him as a child at home has influenced his success.

''I guess these early experiences have given me that edge up in the air. I think my time spent on the vert ramp has influenced my stance when I drop in, where to look, where to shift your weight. That's probably why I can go from lip to lip without falling whilst maintaining the speed for my next trick,'' Hirano tells Olympic Channel.

Halfpipe Hype | Ayumu Hirano Returns

After chasing his Olympic skateboarding dream, Japan’s two-time Olympic sil...

Hirano also has ambitions to compete at the summer games.

''Now that both sports [snowboard and skateboard] are officially recognised events at the Olympics, my main goal is to fulfill my dream of representing Japan at both Olympics.'' - Ayumu Hirano

He's not the only talented Hirano family member.

Younger brother Kaishu Hirano claimed silver in halfpipe at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics. The pair are together in Switzerland in this episode, but Ayumu admits it's a special and rare occurrence.

''It might be quite surprising, but my younger brother and I rarely go to the same events and ride together. This is only the second time travelling together and the first time ever properly practising together,'' Ayumu reveals.

Halfpipe Hype | Highest Ski Air

Canadian Skier Dylan Marineau attempts to break the world record for the hi...

Watch Halfpipe Hype and Highest Air on Olympic Channel

As the group of world’s best snowboarders descended on Switzerland, a focused attempt was made to land the highest ever air on an Olympic superpipe.

The 6.7-metre tall halfpipe is a daunting creation and towers over the riders as they speed through its transitions to propel themselves to gravity-defying heights.

Three-time Olympic champion Shaun White has previously landed a 7.3 metre attempt, and also holds the official Guinness World Record for Highest Superpipe Air at 7 metres.

He set that record 10 years ago in Colorado, but it’s a record ready to be broken!

Watch how they got on, and look out for more epic snowboarding action to come on Olympic Channel, with Highest Air, a full 52-minute film, to follow in the coming weeks.