People who put on events are looking at rail jams differently these days, and I’m not just talking about who’s invited or how much they get paid. The rail setups themselves are getting more and more strange, wonderful, and elaborate. But these systems don’t always work—bigger isn’t always better, ya know? At The Session’s Salomon Men’s Rail Jam in Vail, though, it was definitely wicked.
Three rails were set up side by side on an uphill bank at the base of Vail’s Gold Peak. There was a flat down, a kinked rail, and a “roller coaster rail. At the top of the rails was a plexi-glass bank with coping, which was used to direct riders back into the rails. So they would start part way up Gold Peak, ride up the up the mini-hill, jib the bank, then drop back in and hit the rails. A totally new approach, but some awesome shit went down on this setup.
Chad Otterstrom was the first to front board the kinked rail to fakie, foreshadowing his stompage throughout the rest of the evening—270 on to the flat down rail, and later Cab 270 onto the kinked rail to frontside boardslide to boardslide through the kink. Holy Crap! T.J. Schneider started out the night on the leaders board by pulling smooth nosepicks on the bank into boardslides on the flat down. George Oakley switch backside lipslid the flat down rail. And tech-master Chris Engelsman nailed a switch backside 270 onto the flat down.
But all this was a bit overshadowed by the insanity of Shaun White. Did you consider him a rail rider? Probably not. But so great is the natural talent juicing through his veins that he pulled off the most impressive crap in the books, hauling ass and gapping up the kinked rail (he was going so frickin fast it was scary to watch), lipsliding the bank-coping through the gap, then frontside lipsliding to fakie on the down flat–all in one go. He then stomped that same combo, except instead of front lip to fakie on the down flat, he did a Cab 270 to frontside boardslide. Damn.
At the end of the night, White, Engelsman, and Otterstrom were all recognized as winners and thrown ten grand for their efforts. And they awarded Danny Kass best trick for his one-footer fast plant antics on the bank.
Some nasty falls were seen and heard by the crowd throughout the event, though. J.P. Tomich knuckled the up-gap near the kinked rail at least twice at super high speeds—the sound was the most disturbing part. It cracked across the valley and really sounded like something broke—his board? His knees? He stood up unhurt, though. The other major destruction was from Shaun White, who fell forward and neck slid the rail through the gap. Unbelievably, he got up from it, and everyone cheered and thought to themselves, huh, he really isn’t human, is he?
ResultsWinners: Chad Otterstrom, Shaun White, Chris EngelsmanBest Trick: Danny Kass