Snowboarding Halfpipe Rules

Explaining The Snowboarding Halfpipe Rules – 5 Key Factors!

by Ben

The snowboard halfpipe can be fun, but understanding the rules can be difficult. To reach the podium, you need to know exactly what the judges are looking for. It’s time I explained the snowboarding halfpipe rules.

The snowboarding halfpipe rules are determined by the International Ski Federation and include guidelines for the overall impression score. A cumulative score out of 100 points is awarded to a snowboarder based on the run’s execution, difficulty, amplitude, variety, and progression. 

Let’s go over the rules of snowboard halfpipe so you have a better idea of what judges are looking for. 

snowboard halfpipe

The Basic Rules Of The Snowboarding Halfpipe

I’m going to assume you’ve already read my introduction to the snowboarding halfpipe.

I’ll therefore dive right in with an outline of what a run looks like and how judging works!

The Run

To perform a run on the halfpipe: 

  1. Drop in at the beginning of the pipe to build momentum. 
  2. Travel across the flat (bottom of the pipe), up the vertical (wall), and take off from the lip (edge of the pipe) to do your tricks. 
  3. Your run ends when you make it to the end of the halfpipe or you stop for more than ten seconds. 

In a competition, you will have at least two runs, and the best will be counted. For example, it could be the best 1 of 2 runs or the best 2 of 3 runs. The judges will determine the run parameters before the competition. 

The Judging

This part is fairly similar to the slopestyle rules.

Halfpipe competitions will have 3-9 judges, though high-level competitions will have at least 7.

Each judge will give an overall impression score out of 100 points. The best and worst scores for each rider are dropped, and the remaining are used to present the final score. 

After watching the snowboarders warm-up, the judges will work together to define the range of an average score they can all use as a reference. 

Overall Impression Score

Unlike most other sports, the scoring of the snowboard halfpipe is essentially subjective.

The judges give each run an Overall Impression score (OI score) to reflect the quality of the run. To try and better standardise the scores, modern snowboarding halfpipe rules utilise several key domains. 

In halfpipe snowboarding, the overall impression score should consider five elements

  • Execution 
  • Difficulty 
  • Amplitude 
  • Variety 
  • Progression 

1. Execution  

The goal for execution is to have a clean run.

Judges look for precision in the following parts of the run: 

  • Control: Stability on the board is key. Wobbling, touching the snow with any part of your body, and falling will negatively affect your score. 
  • Takeoff: If you take off a little too early or late, you will not get the same air as a clean takeoff, which will hurt your run. Another consideration is ensuring you only start your rotation after completely coming off the halfpipe wall. 
  • Landing: You should always land a trick on the balls of your feet cleanly and without wobbles or jolts. 
  • Grabs: A clean grab means your hand goes directly to the board without hitting a boot or any other part of your body. 
  • Pipe Use: Using the entire halfpipe is essential to get the best score possible. 
  • Style and Flow: These abstract factors will depend on the judge’s interpretation, but maintaining speed and making a smooth run will help your score. 

2. Difficulty 

Taking risks in the halfpipe is rewarded. Several aspects of a run affect the difficulty: 

  • Rotation: The more rotations the better, but the direction of the spin is also essential. Having both clockwise and counterclockwise tricks is crucial for a high-difficulty run.
  • Blind Landings: Blind landings, where you can’t see the lip of the halfpipe for the last 180 degrees of your spin, add to the difficulty of a jump. 
  • Grabs: Holding onto the board for longer or with a different hand will increase your difficulty.
  • Trick Placement: Doing your hardest tricks first requires commitment but makes your run harder. In addition, doing your most complex tricks one after the other will help increase difficulty.
  • Transitions: Staying on the heel edge with your weight on your heels in between jumps is more difficult than on your toe edge. 

3. Amplitude

Amplitude is the height above the lip of the pipe that you reach. The height of the very first hit is the most important because it will naturally be the highest.

However, it is crucial to maintain altitude on every jump.

If your height is considerably lower on each following jump, it will hurt your score. 

4. Variety

Demonstrating various skills is essential, and repeating the same tricks will lower your score. You can change up your takeoffs, show both clockwise and counterclockwise trucks, and add in different grabs to keep the run diverse.

5. Progression

The progression criteria considers the creativity of the run. Brand new tricks, grabs, and combinations are highly rewarded. 

Although it is the most abstract of the considerations, don’t overlook progression, as it can often be the difference between gold and silver. 

Are There Any Other Rules?

Nope, not really! 

You can essentially do what you like with your runs… however bear in mind the criteria the judges will use for scoring. 

To Wrap-Up

In snowboard halfpipe, a judging panel will give each competitor an overall Impression score. Though there are no clear point guidelines for the elements, judges must consider the following: 

  • Execution 
  • Difficulty 
  • Amplitude 
  • Variety 
  • Progression

That’s pretty much all you need to know about the snowboarding halfpipe rules. If you found that helpful, check out our other snowboarding guides

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