Let’s face it. 2005 sucked. You didn’t win the X Games. Hell, you didn’t even qualify in the Grand Prix. Not only that, but your computer crashed, you got dumped only to rebound with a complete psycho, and your fish died. Screw 2005. So what better way to bid it ‘adieu’ than with a super-fun-ass rail contest at Winter Park? For the third year in a row, ‘The Park’ held it’s end of the year rail jam, handing out cash to the most shred hungry dudes and dudettes who could throw down the most schralp-tacular moves.

The night started out with two qualifying heats of about 20 riders each. The setup of a massive down-flat-down box and a 10-stair handrail set had some competitors fearing for their lives, and others salivating at the thought of ripping ‘em new ones. The first heat’s standouts included Pat Milbery, Mike Casanova, and Madison Ellsworth with fun lines all over the place. Madison recently dropped out of school to shred full time, so if he’s not a household name within a year, mark my words, I’m gonna kick his scrawny little ass every day until he is. Mads rode solidly, but the true magic didn’t come out till the finals. Nova worked on lengthy frontside boardslides all the way down the long rail and nailed a switch 50-50 to cab 360 out on the 10 stair. Seriously, I’ve never seen Mike do anything with less than a 270 in it. Usually it’s 540 on to 720 in the middle to 1080 off. The kid’s got more spin than the war in Iraq. Milbs was typical Milbs. Everything he does is completely in control, but by the skin of his teeth at the same time. Basically it adds up to him being a very fun rider to watch.

The second heat served up more heated action from Laura Hadar, Chad Otterstrom, and Andrew ‘Droid’ Steward. Hadar cleared the down flat down with a clean frontside boardslide, even a feat that recent wonder-shred Mike Casanova had trouble with. Otterstrom … let’s just say Chad can do whatever the hell trick he feels like. Switch back lipslides on the staircase rails were just the beginning. Last year’s winner, Steward, goes all out every time I see him with crazier lines than anyone. This year he was trying to launch all the way from the little kicker at the beginning of the down flat down all the way to the down section. Like I said, the thing was massive. He was at least fifteen feet in the air and clearing a good 30. After a few attempts at it, he had to concede after possibly blowing out his knee.

Once the finals rolled around, the crowd was lit, and the riders were warmed up. Ellsworth charged right out of the gates with spin on spin off trickery on everything and landed it all clean. He was giving it his all, and I don’t think I saw him so much as put his hand down on the first ten tricks he nailed. Summit County gnar-dog Justin Court stepped it up with a cab 450 to boardslide down the handrail.

In the end though, it must have been the winning combination of ThirtyTwo boots and Flux bindings that were the golden ticket, because team riders Pat Milbery and Laura Hadar ended up going home with the cash. Pat’s creative lines of frontside threes to firecracker down the stairs and some wicked tree stalls on some poor unsuspecting foliage, mixed with his spinny rail wizardry nabbed him the top seat. Hadar’s frontside five-o’s on the staircase rail and cab 270 to frontside boardslide down the down flat down ended up paying dividends in the winner’s circle. It probably also helped that she was bribing all the judges with Mexican beers, too. Nice work Laura, I like your style.