Thanks to 'dirt work' this off-season, the Eagle Superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort opened earlier than ever this winter.

Despite modest early-season snowfall, the 22-foot halfpipe could welcome shredders on Dec. 21 because a portion of the pipe was constructed out of earth this summer, according to mountain officials, who contend that the opening marks the first halfpipe to get up and running in Utah this season.

Located between the 3 Kings and Eagle lifts at the main base of the resort, the halfpipe proximity to the base maximizes the viewing audience during both practice and competitions. Action also is broadcast live on a video screen at Cobra Dogs restaurant at the base.

The halfpipe gained its initial fame during the 2002 Olympic Games as the venue for men’s and women’s snowboard competitions. Most recently, it played host to halfpipe events in the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, exposure that resort officials say prompted the inclusion of halfpipe skiing as a medal sport in the 2014 Winter Olympics. It has become a favorite training ground for top-flight competitors, like Torah Bright and Tanner Hall of Park City.

Twenty-two-foot-high halfpipes are the largest in the competitive world, and the Park City version is one of the three dozen or so that have been built in North America. Many must wait until sufficient snow cover in order to bulldoze the pipe into shape, but Park City is among a growing number of resorts that have constructed a portion of the halfpipe out of dirt.

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