Vail’s Rail Session was held under a fool moon in the kind of nighttime mountain cold that makes you wish you were still in the womb. Bitter. But the riders were on fire, and as it turned out, that’s what mattered most.
The setup was simple: a two-hour jam on three rails, ten thousand dollars to the best trick on each one, and five thousand dollars for the best overall women’s performance. The rails included a double-set-staircase, down-flat-down with a box on one side and a railing on the other; a giant, double-railed, X-shaped rainbow; and the infamous “battleship rail,” a monstrous quadruple-kinked table obstacle. It was a regular jibassic paradise.
The action started out a little slow, but it didn’t take long for the riders to warm up from hiking and getting nasty on the jibs. It was impossible to catch everything going on because at any given time there were bangers being thrown on all three obstacles. Zach Leach heated things up early on with skatey smith grinds on the staircase rail, while Travis Rice boardslid the rainbow and Matt Peterson easily 50-50ed the four kinks on the battleship rail.
Things got more intense as the clock counted down. Ryan Lougee and Shaun White were dueling it out on the battleship, both gapping to boardslide, but White took the lead by backside 180ing the gap to frontside boardslide. That kid just never falls. Travis Rice busted an impromptu 50-50 to frontflip on the rainbow rail for the win. And Canadian James Beach smoothed out some nice backside 270 to boardslides and other things on the staircase for domination. A few of the females took one for the team and ended the evening layed up in the hospitality tent with icepacks. But that didn’t stop Brit Jenny Jones from taking charge of all three obstacles in one way or another for the five grand prize.
At the end of exactly two hours, the crowd (at least the part who hadn’t retired to the cozy confines of the baselodge bar) piled up around the podium to watch the winners accept their awards. As boy-prodigy Shaun White graciously accepted his ten large, he voiced what was probably on the mind of every rider participating in the event: “I’m just happy I didn’t die.”
Kinked Staircase Rail: James Beach
Rainbow X Rail: Travis Rice
Battleship Kinked Rail: Shaun White
Women’s Overall: Jenny Jones