This article originally appeared in New Schoolers. If you would like to read the full article please visit the webiste. http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/Snow-Stoke-Spokane
As autumn slips too slowly into winter here in the Northwest, skiers and boarders alike are hankering for snow. This year winter came a little early to Spokane when the Washington Trust Rail Jam invaded the downtown Convention Center. The Jam took place in conjunction with the Annual Snowlander Expo and Powderkeg Inlander Brew Festival.
Inside the convention center booth after booth lined the hall, all stocked with gear and loudly proclaiming their low prices. The Rail Jam kicked off in the breezeway of the Center with open practice. As the riders got used to the feeling of snow beneath their bases again after a long summer the number of stomped tricks was approximately equaled by the number of wipeouts.
The riders adjusted quickly and after a brief break to groom the course returned for qualifying. Here the ante was upped as the judges heckled and pushed everyone to progress. Soon enough the list had been trimmed down and everyone settled in for the long wait till finals in the evening.
When the finals kicked off at 5 the true nature of the event really started to show through. Friends and family lined the rails, all cheering on their favorite local riders. This may have been the best announced event I have ever attended as the judges took over the mic’s. The riders were required to wear number cards but most of the time were not needed as the judges called out riders for everything from an epic marriage proposal to football accomplishments.
There were no awkward mentions of “whirlybirds” or “the switch.” Instead the judges offered insight on the history of the K-Fed, Tom Whallisch’s ski sponsor and the point value of wizard tricks. I’m not sure there is any other sporting event where the crowd and competitors welcome speculation on long haired skier’s potential sponsorship from Head and Shoulders Shampoo, or offer Instagram callouts after a crash.
This atmosphere of collective stoke and overall lack of pretentiousness permeated the event. At the end of the evening Tristan Tran took home the win for the skiers with tricks ranging from a 270 on, pretzel 270 out on the donkey flat to a large and sketchy pole jam to safety. Kix Kamp won the snowboard completion and Dorothy Nutter deserves special recognition as the only woman in the event, competing with the men.
As the crowd thinned out, escaping to their homes or to the Brew Fest inside winter felt somehow much closer. I guess that’s the nature of preseason rail jams. They sate our lust for snow and stunts, they tide us through these last difficult weeks till opening day. At the end of the night the rails disappeared as mysteriously as they had appeared, leaving Spokane with nothing to show for the day but a bunch of stoked shredders, ready for winter.
Thanks to all of the sponsors who made this event possible as well as the people responsible for putting it on. Also a huge thanks to Nick Rizzuto for organizing this thing and telling me to come up and shoot it, thanks for sharing the stoke!
Washington Trust Bank