It took twelve dump trucks full of snow, but Hoofer’s managed to transform Observatory Hill into a competitive ski run in time for their fifth annual Rail Jam event Saturday.
Clare Bornemann, Hoofers assistant weekday trip planner, said the Rail Jam is a manmade snowboard and ski park with “two rails and a box.” The event is put together to give local riders with an opportunity to show off their tricks in a welcoming atmosphere, she said. More than 200 observers and 60 competitors turned out for the event.
Hoofers Ski and Snowboard Club president Tommy Lindeman said the event has taken place for five years at a variety of locations, including the Memorial Union Terrace and Union South. Club leaders are already looking forward to next year and have their eyes set on Bascom Hill as a potential venue, he said.
Brady Ernst, Rail Jam coordinator, said the crew was “really happy” about the turnout.
“We had to cap the competitors because we didn’t have enough time. But those who were unable to compete were welcome to join the 200 spectators who showed up on a cold Saturday night,” he said.
Ernst said each year Hoofers aims to put on an event that is fun for everyone and to create a venue of increasing difficulty as to “keep the sport progressing and keep things interesting for spectators as well.”
Last year all of the transporting snow and building course features was done by hand, Ernst said. This year the crew had access to additional equipment that allowed for more versatility in the park, letting them to set the bar a bit higher in terms of competition and likeness to a typical rail jam event, he said.
Riders demonstrated their skills in 20-minute rounds and judges selected the top performers from each group to move on to the finals. Ernst described the level of riding as “through the roof,” and spoke to the creativity and skill of the riders that competed.
The winner of the snowboarding division took home a snowboard provided by Unaffiliated Productions while other snowboarding finalists took home gear from Focus Boardshop and Virtika Apparel. The finalists of the ski division won gear from Virtika Apparel as well.
The Rail Jam was part of the weeklong Winter Carnival put on by all six of the Hoofer’s clubs, according to their website. Lauren Deriaz of the Hoofers executive board, who was tasked with coordinating many of the week’s activities, said the primary purpose of the Winter Carnival is to make the cold weather into something fun and enjoyable for campus and community members.
“We also want to bring the community and the university together,” Deriaz said. “Everyone who loves skiing or snowboarding, whether [they are] five or 55, can find common ground at the Rail Jam event.”