February 9, 2016 / Comments (1,176)

Firecrackers down the Stair Set at the Rail Jam

Skiers and snowboarders in Oregon are pretty familiar with rain.

When it comes to park riding, rain can soften up terrain and thin out crowds, allowing for prime riding time.

In Oregon, it’s been said a hundred times before, expect a thousand more: “A little drizzle? Fo shizzle!” Ok, maybe no one says that, but I think they should start.

Friday morning, Oregonians were greeted with the familiar sights and sounds of rain gently pattering down. While rain on a February Friday in Portland usually cheers my heart with dreams of weekend powder, my weather app informed me that these dreams were not going to become a reality until hopefully next weekend: rain was expected that night at Skibowl, during the second rail jam of their series at the West Rope Tow.

For many of the Mt. Hood faithfuls with the rail jam on their calendars and hearts, rain is no deterrent to heading to the mountain. Count me in that group. I stashed my snowboard and gear in my car so I could head straight up after work.

Slogging in the Slush

Arriving at Skibowl was a slushy affair. Soggy families sloshed out to their cars happily steaming after a day of riding, and a new lineup of riders showed up ready to break in the weekend after another work week in the bag.

Looking over the setup for the competition, one new feature added by Skibowl stood out. It was a stair set flanked by a kink rail on one side and a box on the other. New to the park this year, this is the only stair set on Mt. Hood out of any of the resorts, and will still be accessible at the park after the rail jam.

As the competition got under way, skiers and snowboarders looked to impress judges on the new stair set. Riders dropped firecrackers down the stair set, board slides down the handrail and box, or tucked from the top of the park to send it over the entire feature.

The rail jam had a local, informal feel and format. Riders lapped the park riding up the rope tow, then called their drops from the top, occasionally hitting features in close proximity to each other. Spectators and other riders gathered in groups around features, staying far enough to be out of danger but close enough to get a good view.

Some of the Top Park Riders on Hood

The light rain did not seem to impact people’s spirits. I asked Tyler Boyd, a snowboarder competing in the 20 and under bracket, how he felt about the rain. He said that it didn’t affect his riding, and his uncle Brian Guest quickly added “Rain doesn’t bother him. He’s an Oregonian!” The only discernible impact was a reduction in speed. While riders generally had enough speed to hit features, people occasionally skipped features and straight-lined down to gain speed for the stair set at the end of the course.

Complete results weren’t available after the jam (“Do we have a rider with a purple helmet and red jacket? You got first!”) so I’ll present the results that I could get:

Awards went to top riders of several different categories, and some of the best-known park riders on Hood took top honors. For the men’s snowboard category ages 20 and under, Colton Carroll took home the bacon in first place. For women’s snowboard ages 20 and under, Sierra Clasen placed first. The winner in the men’s snowboard ages 21 and over category was Corey Caswell, who also won best trick. On the skiing side, Oscar Weary won first place for ages 20 and below, and Derek Roy won for skiers ages 21 and over.

Prizes and swag giveaways were provided from sponsors i.N.i. Cooperative, Dakine, GoPro, BSD Wax, Celtek Gloves, Neff, and OneBallJay.

Casey Karlsen is a Mt. Hood enthusiast, former Mt. Hood Meadows snowboard instructor, and co-founder of Imperial Snowpark Equipment. In addition to writing and snowboarding, he enjoys cooking, reading, and fantasy basketball.

Last modified: February 9, 2016

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