The Superpipe at Kitzsteinhorn
150 metres long, 6.5 metres high, 22.5 metres wide: These are the impressive figures for the spectacular superpipe on the Kitzsteinhorn. It attracts the world's elite snowboarders and freestylers and draws top athletes to the glacier ski resort in Zell am See-Kaprun every year. Here they train in the impressive halfpipe during the Superpipe Training Weeks from the end of October to the beginning of December 2022, before it is opened to all visitors on the Kitzsteinhorn afterwards. The mastermind behind the superpipe and the training camp is Albert "Alli" Zehetner: The Pinzgau native told us about his job as a pipe master - and revealed why his job is actually more like a hobby.
Alli Zehetner is actually a qualified carpenter, but he gave up his construction job a little more than 20 years ago. He has been working at the Kitzsteinhorn as a halfpipe master ever since. The job in the ski resort was a lucky coincidence, he didn't plan his career this way: "But it worked out great," says Alli. The 47-year-old taught himself how to build halfpipes. His tool is a PistenBully snow groomer, equipped with a special halfpipe cutter. Alli uses it to create the gigantic superpipe on the Kitzsteinhorn every winter. Actually, the preparations for the new pipe already start in spring. "On the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, we work with "old snow". That means we push together a large snow deposit in May and cover it over the summer. Then, two weeks before the season starts in winter, I start building the pipe." He is also supported by the Kitzsteinhorn's shaper team. And although he left the construction business years ago, his current job is similar to his original one: "You have to work with precision in the halfpipe - just like on the construction site," he explains.
Internationally sought-after master of the halfpipes
Over the years, Alli has perfected his skills and now has such a reputation that he has already been contracted four times for the Winter Olympics (once for the Junior Olympics), building halfpipes for the competitions.
"The world's elite jumps there and there is a lot of media interest, much more than usual in snowboarding. You suddenly have a TV audience of 1.5 billion watching the athletes show off their tricks on your halfpipe. That can be quite something," says Alli.
Despite his international assignments, the pipe master has always remained loyal to the Kitzsteinhorn: "This is my home mountain," he says. To promote the scene especially, the Superpipe Training Weeks were launched in Zell am See-Kaprun.
The stars of the scene on the Kitzsteinhorn
At this camp, top international athletes from the snowboard and freeski scene come to the Kitzsteinhorn to refine their skills in the superpipe: Snowboard legend Shaun White as well as Olympic medallists in the snowboard halfpipe Ayumu Hirano and Sena Tomita from Japan, Australian Scotty James, Swiss Jan Scherrer and Queralt Castellet from Spain have been at the camp here. The freeski elite also like to train in the superpipe. Nico Porteous from New Zealand and David Wise and Alex Ferreira from USA are regulars at the camp. "This year the riders are even a bit more excited about the superpipe than usual," Alli reveals proudly. "Because after the hot summer, nobody believed we could create such good conditions on the superpipe." And the superpipe has even grown since last year. "We always adapt to the riders - they advance their tricks every year, so we have to keep up," Alli says. He actually sees his job more as a hobby that he enjoys every day. "I have found a niche in my job: I find the work easy after all these years, while everyone else finds the job complicated," he says.
The superpipe for everyone
Following the renowned training camp, the superpipe on the Kitzsteinhorn will be open to all (skilled) riders from 4 December 2022. Then everyone will be able to follow in the footsteps of the pros. By the way: If you don't dare to show off your tricks here, the superpipe is still worth a visit – even if it just for watching!