Ten Rails, Ten Cities

Albany, New York

Albany is an ill handrail spot. The whole city seems to be built on a hill with many schools and colleges--always a gold mine for rails. You’ll get plenty of neck exercise looking side to side for hours on end trying to decide which rails to session. One of the most famous rails in Albany is a double-kink Mikey LeBlanc gap 270’d a few years back. There’s plenty of speed to gap out--or just to slide the whole thing.--JP Walker

Denver, Colorado

Denver is a vast wasteland of unchecked urban sprawl littered with handrails. The Mile High City goes so deep in every direction it could potentially pack the most urban snowboarding of any metropolis. The problem is the landscape--Denver is only minutely hilly. On the ups, the city is still relatively untapped as snow rarely stays around for more than a day or two. You really have to know where you’re going before the storm hits--spots aren’t obvious like other cities. Beware, cops in Denver are possibly the worst I’ve encountered and are unsympathetic to urban assaults ... especially at Coors Field.--Andy Wright

Anchorage, Alaska

Going all the way to AK just for rails is kind of funny--but if you’re jonesing, the city has a lot to offer. The main attraction is a perfect eighteen-stair concrete ledge (see cover). Anchorage isn’t overloaded with rails, but it has some of the best, and Jason Borgstede pioneered most of them. The city’s terrain is surprisingly flat, but the spots aren’t very hard to find--it’s more like a suburb than a big city. Anchorage’s relatively mild climate brings a lot of rain, forming a miserable ice layer on top of the snow. Don’t leave the ice axe at home, ’cause you just may need it.--Andy Wright

Moscow, Russia

The bitter cold of Siberian winter will toughen you up in a heartbeat. If you live in it--you’re hard as nails. When Christoph Weber, Eero Niemala, and David Benedek rolled through Moscow, they discovered that the locals’ only impression of urban rail riding was what they saw in the videos. Forget safe or mellow--it was balls to the wall or nothing at all. The crew’s Russian tour guides took them to some of the gnarliest kinked affairs out there, wouldn’t stand for any chump bumps on, and barely allowed a scattering of snow in the landings, ’cause that’s what they saw in the movies. Brutal. So come to Moscow ready to step, ’cause the Russians will be.--Jennifer Sherowski

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake has been the joint where handrail heavies throw down for a long time runnin’. This is the lil’ city where riders like JP Walker, Jeremy Jones, and Mikey LeBlanc brought handrails back into the limelight years ago. The area is jammed full of talented shredders, but it wouldn’t mean a damn thing if snow didn’t lace the city on the regular. Snow falls hard and often, blanketing SLC and the suburbs, providing slider options galore. Discovering untouched metal here, however, is like finding a needle in a haystack. If you’re content to cruise around and slide rails you’ve seen in the mags--come on down. But if you’re looking for fresh kills, this place is done played out.--Cody Dresser

New York, New York

Considering almost the whole city is covered in concrete, chances of running into some sort of jib is high. Apartment complexes, schools, and high-rise structures make up most of the landscape, so it’s just a matter of getting off your ass and scouting.

There’re a couple of downfalls to urban shredding in the Big Apple, though. For one--hitting it when it’s good. This ain’t no resort town, storms come and go as they damn please, so paying attention to the weather is a must. Secondly--some of the best spots are in less than friendly ‘hoods. A bunch of middle-class kids with gold chains on snowboards tend to draw a little attention, so be careful.--Chris Coyle

Helsinki, Finland

When Joni Malmi and I were in Finland, it was so cold the cameras wouldn’t even operate 500 percent of the time. Helsinki’s rails are amazing, though, and there’s an endless supply of them. The cops are even cool!--Eddie Wall

Calgary, Canada

The snow season in Calgary could happen at any time. I’ve seen snow here in July! But you’re almost guaranteed snow early season--November and December. Usually, it’ll dry up in January, with temperatures dropping to minus-35 Celsius (negative-31 Farenheit). February will see snow again, and then there’ll be a freak storm in the spring, too.

For the most part, “The Man” is not a factor riding rails here, as long as you’re choosy about the right time and the right place--like don’t go to a school during class hours, and hit the public areas after dark. The less people get kicked out, the less likely it is that they’ll nub the rails.--Mark Gallup

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington’s a fairly tight spot, but it’s dominated by hippies--which is not always a bad thing, just usually. Besides rails, the best thing Burlington has going is Dunkin’ Donuts--the little joint never let us down when we needed energy at four in the morning. Burlington has a couple “no bust” areas and the usual “make your trick the first try and cut” spots. As far as jibs go, Burlington has it all. I like this city--it’s dope! Hopefully we didn’t just kill it.--Jeremy Jones

Quebec, Canada

Quebec is a relatively small city compared to a place like Los Angeles, but it sits on a hill, so there’re many stairs and rails. The weather gets very cold, and riders like Etienne Gilbert, Guillaume Brochu, Max Lejandre, and Reno Belisle own the rail scene here. There’s still lots to be discovered, and more pros visit Quebec every year. If you’re making the trip, I suggest you bring earmuffs, along with some hand warmers.--J-F Pelchat


RA1 (01) Denver

Zach Leach, all Smith style. Photo: Andy Wright/Back In Black

(02) Albany

JP Walker pushes through a late-night frontside kink. Photo: Andy Wright/Shakedown

(04) Alaska

Jon Kooley 50-50s. Andy Wright/Shakedown

(10-11) Calgary

Benji Ritchie pops a lofty air to backside lip. Photo: Mark Gallup/White Balance


Christoph Weber--front board, gold rail. Photo: Lozza

(27) Quebec

Etienne Gilbert throws a textbook front board, all squared up an’ shit. Quebec, Canada. Photo: Oli Gagnon


(34) Burlington

Jeremy Jones 50-50s a hectic set in the wee hours of morning. Photo: Andy Wright/Shakedown


Joni Malmi drops a switch 50-50 on frozen streets. Photo: Rob Mathis


J2 Rasmus 50-50s all pressed on the chainlink. Photo: Andy Wright/Back In Black

Salt Lake City

Mikey LeBlanc with yet another ungodly bomb drop. Photo: Andy Wright/Shakedown