The early phases of snowboarding began in the 1960's, utilized by skateboarders and surfers as a winter board sport. During the 1970's and 1980's snowboarding slowly gained popularity and by the 1990's it had become a norm at ski resorts. Snowboarders began organizing competitions on the early 1980's but the sport did not make its Olympic debut until 1998 at the Nagano Games.
The half pipe is different from traditional snowboarding because it requires flexible boots and a wide, flexible board. The extra flexibility in the boots allows the athlete more movement at the ankles for performing tricks. The wide, flexible board is also useful for maneuvering and performing tricks and it provides extra balance. In International competition, helmets are a mandatory piece of equipment.
The half pipe is 100 to 140m long, 14 to 18m wide and 3 to 4.5m in height. The athlete must complete the course from start to finish while performing airborne tricks. In order to move forward, the athlete snowboards forward and backward at an angle in between tricks.
The scoring system is based on a 10-point scale and is determined by five judges. The judges score each run based on the execution of the run, risks taken, precision in the sequence of tricks and the height of the tricks. The more risks that are taken, the higher the possible score. Athletes are deducted points when they fall and perform low-risk routines.
Each athlete competes in two qualifying runs, which determine the 12 athletes who will compete in the finals. There are then two final runs where the best score for each athlete is used to determine the outcome.