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Local's Profile : Steve Petrie

Photo by Dave Steers

Steve Petrie builds the Olympic half-pipe by day --  and a BMX track for Pemberton’s local kids in his spare time.  

But crafting the 2010 Olympic half-pipe at Vancouver’s Cypress Mountain is Petrie’s highest-pressure job to date.  ‘It’s the most high profile snow feature I’ve ever built.  We’re aiming to build one of the best pipes the athletes have ever ridden.”

Building a great half-pipe is as much about pre-production as it is about production -- which means hours and hours spent working air out of the snow until the texture is as dense as possible. “When you push snow in big piles, it’s like piling a bunch of rocks together. There are a bunch of air pockets,” explains Petrie. His crew starts with 10,000 cubic meters of snow, lined up above the pipe. Using four snow cats, they push the giant pile of snow downhill and over the half-pipe’s dirt foundation, breaking up the snow, pushing the air out of it and developing a consistent snow pack to sculpt.  The ideal riding surface in the half-pipe is firm but not icy, so the riders can get an edge in the wall without sinking in too far.

In the summer of 2009, Petrie applied his expertise to Pemberton’s dirt, sculpting a new BMX track, where the next generation of X Games and Olympic stars may just get their start.

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