It sounds sketchy. A handrail contest on the East Coast, this time of year? Forget what you’re thinking: it was sick. Red Bull and Volcom set up an urban handrail contest in Niagara Falls, NY. By using rails in their natural setting -a plaza in the city center – they threw an event like we’ve never seen, and some bad ass riding went down before a charged-up crowd. It was heavy. With trucked-in snow, a live DJ and $30,000 in cash we knew it would get raw. They had a sweet format: three separate 45-minute jam sessions on three different rails. And $10,000 was the prize for each rail.
The rails grew in length, stair-count and steepness with each successive jam and the rider’s delivered the goods. There were cement ledges beside the rails that got punished, too. It really looked like something out of a stage of Tony Hawk Pro Skater, but with snow. The rider list included: Bjorn Leines, Justin Hebbel, Kyle Clancy, Nate Bozung, Scott Arnold, Seth Huot, Eddie Wall, Ali Goulet, Zach Leach, Jeff Kramer, Micah McGinnity, Brian Thien, Jordan Mendenhall, and young buck Chris Demulskey. Judges Jason “J2” rasmus and Joel Mahaffey handled the tricky business of sorting it all out. The first two rails were judged by best trick, the third, finale rail jam was judged on overall annihilation.
There was no snow anywhere; except at the top and bottom the stairs. It was Sunny, sixty-five degrees and a loud and enthusiastic gathered to check it all out. The first jam saw the boys getting warm, but Bozung staggered over form our nearby hotel, and started cracking-off.
Something like a Cab 270 to frontside boardslide earned him the victory in the first leg of the competition, but of course results weren’t announced until the end, so when time was up at rail #1, the riders just went to the next one, and continued dropping hammers.
At rail #2 there was too much trickery to go into detail. Eddie Wall and Ali were utilizing a sort of rainbow-ledge beside the rail, and got the spectators going! Everyone was getting warmed up including DJ Ted Shred, and we saw spin and switch-spin rail attack! It was heated battle between Clancy, Leach, Wall, and Goulet; but they all seemed to be having fun and were running back up the stairs to go back at ’em. All the while, this scrawny little high school kid, Chris Demulskey was ripping up the rails. He came from California with Mahaffey, and stepped-up the F-up, throwing smooth, calm rail and ledge tricks, until a nasty spill on the third rail took him out of the competition. Watch for this kid! Scotty Arnold walked with the ten Gs on rail #2. This kid is smooth. He took full advantage with switch slides and spin to frontside nosepress. He ripped.
So the final Jam went down before a seething crowd: 45 minutes of fury on a 22-stair metal rail stuffed between a pair of waist-high rough-ass concrete ledges. Everyone destroyed it , and by the end everyone who hadn’t slammed and quit, was bleeding. Meanwhile, the crowd was going apeshit. Seth Huot came out on top with dozens of smooth makes on a variety of tricks.
So it was all good. Red Bull, Volcom and Niagara Falls pulled off an innovative, super-fun contest and we got to see it live. With proper planning, this type of event could go down anywhere, let’s hope another one happens soon –and the beauty of it? No ambulance rides today, gotta be stoked on that!