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The big beast of LAAX

6.90 metres high, 200 metres long and 22 metres wide – since January 2015 the world’s biggest halfpipe is in LAAX on Crap Sogn Gion. The superpipe is open throughout the entire season and professional athletes as well as freestyle enthusiasts can enjoy dizzying heights here.

The world’s largest halfpipe is located in LAAX

The halfpipe has a long tradition here in LAAX – in 1985 the first halfpipe was opened, 2 meters high, 50 meters long and shaped by hand. Since then a lot has changed, new machines were purchased and the halfpipe became bigger and bigger. With the construction of the superpipe LAAX sets new standards worldwide. Since the winter season 2014/15 it is open throughout the entire season, from December to April. With the height of 6.90 meters it is unique in the world and with the length of 200 meters it corresponds to Olympic standards. It is not just the superpipe’s size that makes it special: as well as providing ideal facilities for athletes, the halfpipe is also available to all other guests visiting LAAX.

LAAX OPEN 2016

Action at the superpipe

Interview with Gian Simmen

Born 19th February 1977 in Chur, Grisons

1998 - Halfpipe Olympic winner, snowboard
2001 - ISF halfpipe world champion, snowboard
2002 - ISF halfpipe world champion, snowboard

Gian, you are an “old hand” at everything concerning halfpipes. Do you still get nervous when you are standing right at the top?
No, not anymore. There’s a certain type of nervousness, but it’s more about knowing that the jump involves doing it perfectly. You can’t do these jumps when you are totally relaxed, even though it often looks like that.

As a professional athlete, what would you say makes a good halfpipe?
It has to be prepared meticulously and in, the right shape, and the coping has to be straight – no snaking line. The wall shouldn’t have any ripples in it and the radius has to be perfectly shaped, especially at the transition from the centre to the radius. If you consider that we are sometimes travelling at a speed of 40 to 60 kilometres an hour …

You’ve been in the professional business for 20 years. What changes have you seen in this sport?
The snowboarder world has clearly become more professional. A halfpipe used to be shovelled out by hand – now it’s done by pipe dragons (milling machines). Today halfpipes and snowparks / big airs are planned by engineers who work on computers to fi gure out the best radius. And the spirit of it? The wacky snowboarder from back then is a top athlete today. For snowboarding you have to be in really good physical shape and have to have excellent coordination – which is often underestimated. Today we can do a double somersault with a triple cork on a halfpipe or a quadruple somersault with a quadruple cork in the kicker / big air (ski jump). I also used to be one of those wacky snowboarders, but I never forgot what it means to stick to it. I always had the drive to learn all the tricks. It was only this way that
I was able to become a top athlete without ever forgetting to enjoy it.

How do the world’s halfpipes differ?
There are many, very big differences. The construction and general upkeep of the halfpipes alone is very different. In many areas the pipes are no longer taken care of once a competition ends. Then there are those which are always prepared perfectly throughout the whole season. If I had to name the best spontaneously, I would say LAAX, Breckenridge, Northstar and Park City.

The world's biggest halfpipe is here in LAAX. What’s it like?
Great! Everything is perfect – the gradient, the slope, the shape. I also like the short lift and the Café NoName, where you can have a quick coffee and still watch everything that’s going on. To sum up: fantastic snowboarding conditions, and the atmosphere on the mountain is incredibly cosy!