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Thursday, January 12, 2012
Updated: January 13, 1:02 PM ET
First hits in the hometown superpipe

By Seth Lightcap
ESPN Action Sports

Shaun White signature halfipipe
The new Northstar superpipe may have Shaun White's name on it, but it's got every pipe star in Tahoe besides him riding in it.

The largest amount snow in Lake Tahoe right now is without a doubt all packed into the walls of the new Shaun White Signature Superpipe at Northstar. After nearly 700 hours of work done by Snow Park Technologies and Northstar, the 22-foot superpipe opened to the public on December 31. The 500-foot long pipe is notable for several reasons. Not only was it the first halfpipe to open in Tahoe this winter, it is the first-ever 22-foot Tahoe superpipe that will remain open to the public. The massive terrain feature marks the landmark deal Shaun White signed with Vail Resorts last August that made Northstar California his home mountain and primary training ground.

White has shown no interest in riding his namesake superpipe yet, however. Rumors flew that he would be at Northstar during the first week of January for a private training session, but for reasons yet to be uncovered, he never showed. Instead it was Burton teammate Danny Davis, who lives less than ten minutes from Northstar, who became the first to score a private session on the new pipe when he took over the two-day training window that White passed up.

"I guess I kinda bit on his session," laughed Davis, when asked about the opportunity he was given to break in the new pipe. "I called SPT and asked if Shaun was coming and they said 'No, you want it?' I was like, 'Hell yeah!' We always seem to be poaching his sessions. Thanks for this one Shaun!"

Davis landed tricks during the session that he hadn't put down since his Olympic-dream-killing back injury two years ago.

"It's nice to have a 22-foot halfpipe this close to home," said Davis. "And it's a darn good one. I rode the Copper Mountain pipe at the beginning of the season and it was good, too, but there were like 200 people there. It was just stupid. I needed a minute alone. Riding this pipe got me in a groove again. I landed a couple things that I hadn't landed in two years."

danny davis
Danny Davis is back in the saddle again.

Word about the local 22-footer spread quickly and it wasn't long before other Tahoe heavyweights showed up. Elena Hight and Hannah Teter joined Davis at Northstar the following weekend. Hight, a Northstar team rider, was especially stoked to rip her new home halfpipe.

"It's one of the best I've ridden this year for sure. SPT really pulled it together despite the lack of snow," said Hight. "I'm going to spend as much time as possible here."

Davis, Hight and Teter are all training to compete in the superpipe at Winter X. Hight took third in the women's superpipe at Winter X 2011 and hopes to charge onto the podium again.

"I'm really looking forward to the X Games," said Hight. "I'd like to step it up a notch and do even better this year. I've been working on adding a couple inverts into my run -- a McTwist -- and hopefully, an alley-oop backside rodeo. Usually I just have a lot of flat spins, so it's been exciting to mix it up a bit."

Davis competed in the men's superpipe at last year's Winter X, but it was his first time back in a pipe competition since his injury, so he didn't advance to the finals.

"I'm hoping this year I'll be better prepared and more competitive," said Davis. "But you gotta just have fun at X Games because it's a high pressure event. I have never done very well in halfpipe there, so if I don't do well, it will be just like another year. Or, if I make my first finals it will be a special one. Somehow they keep inviting me back."