The U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Pro Team has been training for the past week at its first summer on-snow camp at the famous Windells located on Mt. Hood. Riders taking part in the camp include 2010 Olympians Greg Bretz (Mammoth Lakes, CA), Louie Vito (Sandy, UT), Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) Elena Hight (South Lake Tahoe, CA) and Kelly Clark (Mt. Snow, VT) among others.
The Mt. Hood session has been a new experience to both the attending riders and the coaches. For the first time, U.S. Snowboarding is enlisting the help of a new feature, the airbag. Located at the end of the halfpipe, the device allows riders to try new tricks in a safe, controlled environment.
Besides just the airbag positioned on the glacier, the Windells Campus recently completed construction of a permanent airbag positioned under a dry-slope kicker. The riders can not only session the airbag on the snow during the day, but can also toss double corks into the night back at the camp.
“This is our first time setting any training like this, as far as having an airbag or any kind of feature that enables riders to try tricks that they have never tried before in a safe and padded environment,” explained U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Coach Rick Bower.
“The goal of this camp is just for these riders to have an opportunity to try tricks that they’ve never tried on snow in a relatively safe environment,” said Bower. “The airbag makes it so there’s room for error. By any means you can still get hurt on it, but it’s way safer for trying these double inverted tricks that a lot of the guys are doing.”
Tricks in the pipeline for the riders include the double Michaelchuck, consisting of a back flip with a 180 off the heel side edge; and a double McTwist, made up of a double front flip off the heel side edge for the men and a backside 720.
The Pro Team is scheduled to be head down to New Zealand at the end of August for camps and the first round of the competition season. With the progression of the Mt. Hood camp moving forward, fans should expect big things for the 2010-11 season.