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Japan’s new superpipe: Louie Vito talks style versus technicality

Ayumu Hirano’s battle with Shaun White in the Olympic final has captured mainstream media attention in Japan, and ignited the perennial style versus technicality debate in the online armchair judges of the snowboard community. Louie Vito addresses the topic in this edit from the new Japanese superpipe in the far north of Japan built with input from Ayumu himself.

Japan may have hosted the first Olympic halfpipe competition, but pipes have become a rarity in the land of #japow. Aomori Spring resort has bucked that trend by creating one of two currently maintained 22′ superpipes in Japan – and at Ayumu’s request, making the whole thing steeper!

With a creative park crew given free reign, Aomori Spring wants to put the northern-most prefecture of Honshu on the map for park progression. After Ayumu rode there last winter, they undertook earthworks over the summer to give it more pitch, length and width – making it 18 degrees, yet still with the Olympic 22ft walls. It then became a pre-Olympic training ground for multiple countries including the Finland Snowboard Team, the German Snowboard Team and a place to relax before the pressure of Korea.

With this investment, is this resort going to foster the next generation of Japanese pipe ninjas, inspired by Ayumu? The answer might be close at hand, with fourteen-year-old Kaishu Hirano, Ayumu’s little brother, already spending a lot of time there.  As an Aomori Spring ambassador, Louie Vito is now spending substantial portions of his winter in Japan, riding pipe with pow laps in between – or the other way around on many of the snowy days in Aomori.

Kaishu Hirano is following in big brother Ayumu’s footsteps combining style and big tricks in the pipe. 📷 Keith Stubbs

If that sounds like fun, check out their instagram here – where it looks like part of Chloe Kim’s road to Olympic domination was shredding pow…