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Vert ramp with vert, transition, and flat Halfpipe-Mainz (1).jpg
Vert ramp with vert, transition, and flat

A half-pipe is a structure used in gravity extreme sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, skiing, freestyle BMX, skating, and scooter riding.



The structure resembles a cross-section of a swimming pool, essentially two concave ramps (or quarter-pipes), topped by copings and decks, facing each other across a flat transition, also known as a tranny. [1] Originally half-pipes were half sections of a large diameter pipe. Since the 1980s, half-pipes contain an extended flat bottom between the quarter-pipes. The original style half-pipes are no longer built. Flat ground provides time to regain balance after landing and more time to prepare for the next trick.

Half-pipe diagram Half-Pipe Vert Ramp.svg
Half-pipe diagram

Half-pipe applications include leisure recreation, skills development, competitive training, amateur and professional competition, demonstrations, and as an adjunct to other types of skills training. A skilled athlete can perform in a half-pipe for an extended period of time by pumping to attain extreme speeds with relatively little effort. Large (high amplitude) half-pipes make possible many of the aerial tricks in BMX, skating and skateboarding.

For winter sports such as freestyle skiing and snowboarding, a half-pipe can be dug out of the ground or snow perhaps combined with snow buildup. The plane of the transition is oriented downhill at a slight grade to allow riders to use gravity to develop speed and facilitate drainage of melt. In the absence of snow, dug out half-pipes can be used by dirt-boarders, motorcyclists, and mountain bikers.

Performance in a half-pipe has been rapidly increasing over recent years. The current limit performed by a top-level athlete for a rotational trick in a half-pipe is 1440 degrees (four full 360 degree rotations). In top level competitions, rotation is generally limited to emphasize style and flow.


In the early 1970s, swimming pools were used by skateboarders in a manner similar to surfing ocean waves. In 1975, some teenagers from Encinitas, California, and other northern San Diego County communities began using 7.3-metre-diameter (24 ft) water pipes in the central Arizona desert associated with the Central Arizona Project, a federal public works project to divert water from the Colorado River to the city of Phoenix. Tom Stewart, one of these young California skateboarders, [2] looked for a more convenient location to have a similar skateboarding experience. Stewart consulted with his brother Mike, an architect, on how to build a ramp that resembled the Arizona pipes. With his brother's plans in hand, Tom built a wood frame half-pipe in the front yard of his house in Encinitas.

In a few days, the press had gotten word about Tom's creation and contacted him directly. Tom then went on to create Rampage, Inc. and began selling blueprints for his half-pipe design. [3] About five months later, Skateboarder magazine featured both Tom Stewart and Rampage. Little did Tom know that his design would go on to inspire countless others to follow in his foot steps.


Mini ramp (no vertical) Half pipe.png
Mini ramp (no vertical)

The character of a half-pipe depends on the relationship between four attributes: most importantly, the transition radius and the height, and less so, the degree of flat bottom and width. Extra width allows for longer slides and grinds. The flat bottom, while valued for recovery time, serves no purpose if it is longer than it needs to be. [4] Thus, it is the ratio between height and transition radius that determines the personality of a given ramp, because the ratio determines the angle of the lip. [5]

On half-pipes which are less than vertical, the height, typically between 50% and 75% of the radius, profoundly affects the ride up to and from the lip, and the speed at which tricks must be executed. Ramps near or below 0.91 m (3 ft) of height sometimes fall below 50% of the height of their radius. Technical skaters use them for advanced flip tricks and spin maneuvers. Smaller transitions that maintain the steepness of their larger counterparts are commonly found in pools made for skating and in custom mini ramps. The difficulty of technical tricks is increased with the steepness, but the feeling of dropping in from the coping is preserved.

Common mistake in the construction of ramps is constant radius in transitions: Most of the ramps are built with a quarter circle of constant radius for easy construction, but the best ramps are not constant radius but a parabola with little final vert (vertical).

The parabola allows for easy big air with return still on the curve and not on the flat.

Construction of a cycloid Moglfm1324 cicloide.jpg
Construction of a cycloid


A cycloid profile will theoretically give the fastest half-pipe if friction is neglected. It is then called a brachistochrone curve. Such a curve in its pure form has infinitely short verts and is π times as wide as it is high.

Skateboarding, freestyle BMX, Scootering, and aggressive inline skating

Vert ramp at the 2010 Boardmasters Festival during the first skateboard free practice session BoardmastersVert 1.jpg
Vert ramp at the 2010 Boardmasters Festival during the first skateboard free practice session

Frame and support for skateboard, BMX, and vert skating half-pipes frequently consist of a 2x6x8" lumber (actual 38 x 140 x 184 mm) framework sheathed in plywood finished with sheets of masonite or Skatelite. Also, a metal frame finished in wood or metal is sometimes used.[ citation needed ]

Most commercial and contest ramps are surfaced by attaching sheets of some form of masonite to a frame. Many private ramps are surfaced in the same manner but may use plywood instead of masonite as surface material. Some ramps are constructed by spot-welding sheet metal to the frame, resulting in a fastener-free surface. Recent developments in technology have produced various versions of improved masonite substances such as Skatelite, RampArmor, and HARD-Nox. [6] These ramp surfaces are far more expensive than traditional materials.

Channels, extensions, and roll-ins are the basic ways to customize a ramp. Sometimes a section of the platform is cut away to form a roll-in and a channel to allow skaters to commence a ride without dropping in and perform tricks over the gap. Extensions are permanent or temporary additions to the height of one section of the ramp that can make riding more challenging.

Creating a spine ramp is another variation of the half-pipe. A spine ramp is basically two quarter pipes adjoined at the vertical edge.

Half-pipe at Riverside Skatepark (designed by Andy Kessler) Manhattan, NYC - 2019 Riverside Skatepark vert ramp 2019 05 05.jpg
Half-pipe at Riverside Skatepark (designed by Andy Kessler) Manhattan, NYC - 2019

Snow Half-pipes

Half-pipe in snow Half pipe P1570.jpeg
Half-pipe in snow

Half-pipes in snow were originally done in large part by hand or with heavy machinery. Pipes were cut into snow using an apparatus similar to a grain elevator. The inventor was Colorado farmer Doug Waugh who created the Pipe Dragon used in both the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. [7] One current method of half-pipe cutting is by use of a Zaugg Pipe Monster, which uses five snow-cutting edges to create an elliptical shape that is purportedly safer and allows the rider to gain more speed.[ citation needed ]

In winter sports, a 6.7 m (22 ft) halfpipe is called a superpipe. The tallest snow superpipe in the world is currently located near Laax, Switzerland. [8] With a height of 6.90 m (22.6 ft) this Halfpipe has held the world record since the 2014/2015 Season and regularly hosts the LAAX Open.

The current world record for highest jump in a half-pipe is held by freestyle skier, Joffrey Pollet-Villard, [9] at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in 2015, when he achieved a height of 8.04 meters (26ft, 3in) above a 22-ft superpipe.

See also

Quarterpipe at XLETIX running race in Germany IT4B0284-1.jpg
Quarterpipe at XLETIX running race in Germany

Related Research Articles

Boardsports are sports that are played with some sort of board as the primary equipment. These sports take place on a variety of terrain, from paved flat-ground and snow-covered hills to water and air. Most boardsports are considered action sports or extreme sports, and thus often appeal to youth. A large proportion of youth partaking in these sports, together with aesthetic damage to property from sports like skateboarding, has led to many board sports being marginalized by the greater world of sports in the past. However, many board sports are ever-more frequently gaining mainstream recognition, and with this recognition have enjoyed wider broadcast, sponsorship and inclusion in institutional sporting events, including the Olympic Games.

Freestyle skiing is a skiing discipline comprising aerials, moguls, cross, half-pipe, slopestyle and big air as part of the Winter Olympics. It can consist of a skier performing aerial flips and spins, and can include skiers sliding rails and boxes on their skis. Known as "hot-dogging" in the early 1970s, it is also commonly referred to as freeskiing, jibbing, as well as many other names around the world.

X Games Extreme sports tournament

The X Games are an annual extreme sports event hosted, produced, and broadcast by ESPN. Coverage is also shown on ESPN's sister network, ABC. The inaugural X Games were held during the summer of 1995 in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island, United States. Participants compete to win bronze, silver, and gold medals, as well as prize money.


A skatepark, or skate park, is a purpose-built recreational environment made for skateboarding, BMX, scooter, wheelchair, and aggressive inline skating. A skatepark may contain half-pipes, handrails, funboxes, vert ramps, stairsets, quarter pipes, spine transfers, pyramids, banked ramps, full pipes, pools, bowls, snake runs, and any number of other objects.

Skating involves any sports or recreational activity which consists of traveling on surfaces or on ice using skates.

Inline skating Sport discipline

Inline skating is a multi-disciplinary sport and can refer to a number of activities practiced using inline skates. Inline skates typically have two to five polyurethane wheels, arranged in a single line by a metal or plastic frame on the underside of a boot. The in-line design allows for greater speed and maneuverability than traditional roller skates. Following this basic design principle, inline skates can be modified to varying degrees to accommodate niche disciplines.


A funbox is a standard element of a skatepark. It generally consists of a box shape with a flat top and a ramp on two or more sides. A funbox may also include other elements that allow for more complicated skateboarding tricks.

Vert ramp

A vert ramp is a form of half-pipe used in extreme sports such as vert skating, vert skateboarding and vert BMX.

Vert (sport)

Vert is a term used in extreme sports especially vert skating, vert skateboarding, snowboarding and BMX to denote a competition held on a vert ramp which allows the competitors to fly into the air and land back on the ramp. This time in the air allows the competitor to perform moves which would otherwise be extremely difficult. An example of this would be a flip, or a spin.

Freestyle BMX

Freestyle BMX is bicycle motocross stunt riding on BMX bikes. It is an extreme sport descended from BMX racing that consists of five disciplines: street, park, vert, trails, and flatland. In June 2017, the International Olympic Committee announced that it was to be added as an Olympic event to the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The 900 is a 2½-revolution aerial spin performed on a skateboard ramp. While airborne, the skateboarder makes two-and-a-half turns about their longitudinal axis, thereby facing down when coming down. It is considered one of skateboarding's most technically demanding tricks.


A superpipe is a large halfpipe structure used in extreme sports such as snowboarding, freestyle skiing, skateboarding, scooters, freestyle BMX and vert skating.

Slopestyle Winter downhill sport discipline

Slopestyle is a winter sport in which athletes ski or snowboard down a course including a variety of obstacles including rails, jumps and other terrain park features. Points are scored for amplitude, originality and quality of tricks. The discipline has its roots in action sports like skateboarding and BMX and has very successfully crossed over into the snow sports worlds of skiing and snowboarding. Skiers use Twin-tip skis for their symmetry since they often go large portions of the course backward and for their balanced weight so as to not destabilize spins. Slopestyle tricks fall mainly into four categories: spins, grinds, grabs and flips, and most tricks done in competition are a combination of these.

The LG Action Sports World Tour is the global professional action sports circuit, featuring skateboarding, inline skating, freeskiing, BMX and freestyle motocross. The Tour culminates in the LG Action Sports World Championships in October. The LG Action Sports World Tour started in 2003.

Vert skateboarding

Vert skateboarding, short for vertical skateboarding, is the act of riding a skateboard on a skate ramp or other incline and involves the skateboarder transitioning from the horizontal plane to the vertical plane in order to perform skateboarding tricks.

Mega ramp

A mega ramp, or megaramp, is the informal name given to any large-format vert ramp structure, often used in skateboarding and freestyle BMX. The name distinguishes a second generation of ramps which became increasingly popular during the 1990s-2000s transition years. They are so called to distinguish them from the more modest classic ramps used throughout the preceding decades of these sports and which were, at most, half-scale versions of these newer and larger ramps.

A skateboard style refers to the way a skateboarder prefers to ride a skateboard. Skateboard styles can be broadly divided into two different categories: skateboarding to perform tricks and skateboarding as a means of transportation. Styles of skateboarding have evolved over time and are influenced by a number of factors including sociocultural evolution, mass media, music, technology, corporate influence and individual skill level.

Aggressive inline skating Sport discipline

Aggressive inline skating is a sub discipline of inline skating in the action sports canon, which emphasizes the execution of tricks. Aggressive inline skates are specially modified to accommodate grinds and jumps. Aggressive skating can take place on found street obstacles or at skate parks.

Half-pipe skiing

Half-pipe skiing is the sport of riding snow skis on a half-pipe. Competitors perform a series of tricks while going down the pipe. The current world record for highest jump in a half-pipe is held by Joffrey Pollet-Villard, with 26 feet 3 inches. The sport is considered to be dangerous compared to other sports, and helmets are required to be worn during competitions. Half-pipe skiing has been part of the Winter X Games since 2002, and made its Olympic debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. David Wise of the United States of America became the first Olympic champion in this discipline with a total of 92.00 points.


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  3. Warren Bolster. "Warren Bolster "Master of Skateboard Photography" Image: The Rampage". Concrete Wave Editions (February 2005). ISBN   0973528613. Archived from the original on 2013-06-24.
  4. "Vert ramp design". vert.co.za. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  5. Lutzy. "RampCalc". Engineeringcalculator.net. Archived from the original on August 23, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  6. Skatelite Archived July 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  7. "The Dragon Lives On: Pipe Dragon inventor Doug Waugh passes away". Transworld Snowboarding. February 29, 2000. Archived from the original on August 3, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  8. "Valentino Guseli sets world record in the LAAX superpipe". www.boardriding.com. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  9. "Joffrey Pollet-Villard breaks world record for ski superpipe high air". FREESKIER. 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2021-06-24.