Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Update (9/28/2021): The pipe is confirmed to be back this season, weather permitting. The GM of Nub's Nob explains their halfpipe's status below.
Orginal Post (9/23/2021):
As many skiers and riders have seen over the past few years, halfpipes are becoming rarer at ski resorts across the country. Still, last week Nub's Nob teased some marketing material suggesting its pipe will be coming back this season, which would mark the second revival of this iconic pipe.
Flashback to 2017, and patrons of Nub's Nob would have been confused if you used the term halfpipe in front of them. That's because, at that time, Nub's hadn't had a pipe in over a decade.
Halfpipes grew in popularity throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s. They could be found at almost all resorts across the country, but Nub's made a name for itself, installing a typical pipe under the red lift and carving a Superpipe where the rope tow is now located. Superpipes were much larger than their smaller siblings, boasting up to twenty-two-foot walls rather than the twelve-foot walls of a standard halfpipe.
The popularity and progression of pipes seemed to be unstoppable, but they would soon stop showing up at ski resorts across the country - including Nub's Nob.
Several factors played into the decline of halfpipes over the years. Some of the most influential were riders and skiers' push for more slopestyle features, increasing snowmaking costs, and the overall cost and labor needed to upkeep these features. As a result, what once was a staple at ski resorts across the country in the early 2000s, became a rarity less than ten years later. The machine used to cut Nub's iconic pipes, The Pipe Magician, found itself lonely and withering away with a fate that screamed scrap yard. But then, something interesting happened in 2018.
Most will likely not recall 2018 as an extra special skiing or riding year, but it unquestionably was for pipe riders in Northern Michigan. In November and early December of 2018, Nub's was hit with sustained cold temperatures, which allowed them to make snow and lots of it. Around the middle of December, Nub's management began tossing around the idea of building a pipe; they had the snow but didn't have the machine, at least not in working order.
The Pipe Magician had seen over ten years of neglect and was on its death bed, but the snowmakers, groomers, and mechanics were up for the challenge. Over the next couple of weeks, Johnny "Turbo" Viterbo and Chad Glazier would pretty much rebuild the Pipe Magician, all while searching the globe for parts for this legendary machine.
Just before Christmas, Scott "Guppy" Koontz cut the first pipe at Nubs in more than ten years. The iconic Red Chair Pipe was back, and it became headline news across the Midwest Ski Scene. Freestyle skiers and riders around the Midwest found a sense of nostalgia as they rode the Red Chair and watched skiers and riders catch air above the pipe. It was almost as if we were back in the early 2000s, and the following season (2019/2020), the halfpipe made a return, making us feel like it was finally back for good.
But as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. Last season, likely due to the poor early season weather and COVID restrictions, the pipe was absent, and The Pipe Magician once again found itself back beside the maintenance garage. Many wondered, could this be the end of the halfpipe at Nubs for good?
Then last week, Nub's Nob began their season pass sale promotions with a hint that got pipe riders excited once again. The post read, "Who's ready to see the half pipe make its return this season?"
We are ready, Nub's, now bring on the weather.
We will be sitting down to chat with Ben Doornbos, Nub's General Manager, and we will be sure to discuss the future of the halfpipe there and what we can expect for the upcoming season.
If you want to learn more about Nub's Nob or pick up your season pass today, head on over to www.nubsnob.com