Local pipe dreams take a hit

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

The death of the half-pipe at Lake Louise will be the birth of something far greater.

According to Matt Mosteller, senior director of business development at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, the decision to eliminate the once hugely popular half-pipe is based solely on the needs of today's snowboarders and skiers.

"We recorded usage of the terrain park and the pipe. Then we took guest's comments and we realized there's been a huge change over the last five years," Mosteller said yesterday after the Sun had learned RCR axed its half-pipe program for the upcoming season.

"There's been a big shift to all-mountain and terrain park users rather than just playing in the pipe. There's 4,200 acres of skiable terrain at Louise, of which 1,500 is backcountry. So what we're seeing is that all that terrain is getting used more and more.

"The same thing is happening in the terrain parks. Instead of going up and down on the pipe, riders want that change in features and more variety."

In its place, Lake Louise has made a commitment to expand the ShowTime Terrain Park. Telus and RCR -- owner of Kimberley, Fernie, Nakiska and Lake Louise -- will team up to develop a mammoth terrain park that includes something for everybody.

"We're going to invest and create a terrain park for all abilities," said Mosteller.

"We're going to build an intro, intermediate and proline areas.

"What this will do is open it up to more ability levels.

"In the past, the proline has been huge but 80 percent of our market will likely use the new beginner/intermediate area."

Brian Smith, head coach for the Calgary Snowboard Club, said his members likely will be disappointed but by no means does this interfere with their training.

"We didn't use the pipe much at Lake Louise anyway," said Smith. "It's unfortunate, though, because they've always hosted good events. It was fun for the kids to get a change of scenery because they're always used to training in the same areas."

Canada Olympic Park and Norquay now have the only pipes in the province.

Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are expected to open Nov. 10-11 respectively, while Nakiska will open Dec. 3. Fernie is scheduled to opens its doors Dec. 10 and Kimberley Dec. 17. Fortress Mountain has new ownership but there's no word when it will begin operations.


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