Breckenridge is going big: 22-foot Superpipe for 2010-2011 ski/snowboard season

If you've been getting stoked for ski and snowboard season with all the big movie premieres around town this month, here's some fuel for the fire: Breckenridge announced this morning that they're overhauling the Freeway Terrain Park on Peak 8 for this season and adding a 22-foot Superpipe built to Olympic specs.

"The Breck Freeride team riders are so excited," says Kristen Petit, a spokesperson for Breckenridge. "This hasn't exactly been the best-kept secret, but I'm thrilled to be making the official announcement. The new pipe is big news for Breckenridge."

It's big news for the Winter Dew Tour, too: Breck hosts the first stop of the tour for the third year in a row, December 16-19, with Nike 6.0 as the new title sponsor. Last year some of the top snowboarders skipped the event to focus on the Olympics, complaining that the 18-foot pipe wasn't up to the new Olympic standard.

Last year, just two Colorado ski areas built 22-footers: Copper Mountain opened its pipe in time for the start of the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix (they're hosting it again this year, December 8-11), and Buttermilk built big in time for the Winter X Games (this year they'll host Winter X Games 15, January 27-30). Breck is the first new Colorado ski area announcing plans to go big this season.

Breck local JJ Thomas won the Winter Dew Tour's overall title last year, and he's one of the people most stoked at this morning's news. Thomas spent his summer in New Zealand, stepping up his game on the only Olympic-sized pipe he could find.

Here's the full press release from Breckenridge:

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo., - September 13, 2010 - Breckenridge Ski Resort announced today the resort's award-winning, Freeway Terrain Park on Peak 8 will now include a 22-foot superpipe. This is the first major facelift for Breckenridge's Freeway Terrain Park since its inception in 1999.

"Breckenridge has been known for having the best park and pipe for as long as I can remember," says 2010 Dew Tour Cup Champion and Breckenridge Team Rider, JJ Thomas. "And now with a 22-foot halfpipe on site, it's going to be amazing."

Breckenridge has had a long history with snowboarding and freeskiing, hosting one of the first major snowboard competitions, The World's, in 1984 and was the first ski resort to maintain a halfpipe all season long. The new 22-foot version will also be maintained all season and is slated to debut live on NBC during the Winter Dew Tour, Dec. 16-19, 2010.

Master Pipe builder Nick Simon is tasked with building the new pipe and says he's up for the job. "This is like a dream come true. We've worked hard to make our parks top-notch and I'm stoked to take it to the next level." Simon has been with Breckenridge Ski Resort for 11 years and has the resume to make the perfect 22-footer. He began his career at Breckenridge in snowmaking in 1999. After working his way to pipe cutting in the terrain park, Simon is now considered one of the best in the world. "We have taken our time and are doing it right. The Terrain Park crew is excited to be able to boost the caliber of not only the halfpipe, but the entire terrain park and improve the experience for our guests and athletes."

"With a 22-foot pipe Breck has solidified its place in the snow industry as the very pinnacle of freestyle snowboarding and skiing," says two-time XGames Gold Medalist, Steve Fisher. "As a resident and team rider, I won't need to travel anywhere else to train anymore. I will only need to travel to compete."

Breckenridge Team Rider and freeskiing sensation Bobby Brown agrees, "Having a 22-foot pipe in Summit County all season will elevate the sport as well as my own progression. It will put Breckenridge miles ahead of any other resort"

The Breckenridge Freeride Team will be the first to ride the resort's new Freeway Terrain Park, including the 22-foot pipe, just prior to the Dew Tour.