Amid the bright bursting colors of fall foliage, hundreds of snow enthusiasts gathered near the base of the River Run Gondola in Keystone, Colorado, on Saturday for Keystone’s Backyard Barbecue Rail Session, the first rail jam of winter, and for which fifteen tons of ice-chipped snow were trucked in.
The action kicked off bright and early under bluebird skies as more than a hundred and thirty skiers and snowboarders battled it out on the three-rail staircase that included a down rail with a ‘donkey-dick’ (a kink at the end of the rail), a pole jam, and a down bar. Each heat was given fifteen minutes to stomp their best tricks in front of the sprawling crowd and panel of judges. Points were awarded based on technicality, style, and consistency in the jam-format that allowed riders to hit the feature as many times as they could in their allotted time.
Although it was the first rail event of the season, competitors showed no sign of hesitation and put down technical tricks on the steep set-up. After several rounds of intense action, the heats were whittled down to the top ten skiers and boarders, who were chosen to battle it out in the finals.
The event had a laid-back, grassroots vibe, and a collective excitement for winter was palpable in the warm fall air. DJ DC, a veteran DJ of the snow scene, bumped tunes throughout the day, while the “Weenie Wagon” served up hot dogs and brews which added to the backyard barbecue atmosphere.
We caught up with all of the winners and the head judge for the nitty-gritty details about this exciting early season event. Here’s what they had to say.
Adam Stromwall: head judge
What was the highlight for you at the Keystone Backyard Barbecue and Rail Jam?
Watching people fall–everyone was getting worked! I really just love Keystone, so I was really pumped they asked me to judge. [It was] such a fun day.
What was the best rail combo for the ladies?
Front one on, cab one off the donkey dick (down rail with a kink at the end) was the best combo for the girls. It was number 92: Courtney Cox.
What was the best rail line for the men?
There were too freaking many. The decision was soo hard, but the best combo didn’t even win it. We gave it to the guy that did the best tricks overall. But the best combo was definitely the gap from the pole jam to front board through the donkey. That was an awesome combo.
Josh Carreola: men’s snowboard winner
What was your winning run?
I think it was probably my back 270 to tail on the donkey dick rail–that’s what they call the kink at the end of the rail in the industry.
If you could pick one highlight from the day what would it be?
One highlight is the fact that I’m living in Summit County, Colorado, killing it in Keystone. I’m stoked. Just to be here and be snowboarding. I don’t care about anything else but snowboarding, so I’m stoked. Stoked as hell!
What was your overall impression of the Keystone’s Backyard Barbecue and Rail Jam?
It was fun, so sick. The runway into the rails was a tiny bit short, and the course was tight, but damn–it was fun. Such a sick day. I love snowboarding.
Courtney Cox: women’s snowboard winner
What was your winning run, or winning combo?
The crowd was pretty hyped when I did the front 3 off the pole jam, but I don’t know though. That was fun, but I also really liked when I did the front one, switch back one off the down donkey dick. That one was super fun.
If you could pick one highlight from today’s contest what would it be?
Just riding. It was super fun. This rail jam was a great way to start off the season. I’m stoked Keystone put this together and pulled it off. What a great day.
What do you think of Keystone’s Backyard Rail Series?
I think it’s awesome. I’m stoked they have two more stops too, and the prizes were great. They have a lot of good sponsors, and there was good vibes all around today. So I’m stoked–great way to kick off the season!
James Campbell: men’s ski winner
What was your best combo of the day?
I really think my best run was when I gapped from the down rail over the pole jam, and I landed on the donkey dick, and I did a blind 270 out, and I think that’s what separated me from the group.
What has been your favorite highlight from the rail jam?
The whole day has been awesome. Skiing on September 15th? I couldn’t ask for anything more! There’s no one best part of this day- the whole thing was great! It’s super sunny out and it was so hot out–I don’t know how they kept the snow so good. Keystone’s park crew did great! Everything was awesome.
What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming winter season?
I am most looking forward to the Breckenridge Dew Tour, and skiing every day!
Brooke Potter: women’s ski winner
What was your best run?
My best run was a front 270 out of the down rail, and hitting the up canyon, pole jam.
What was your favorite moment from this rail jam?
Just seeing all the girls that showed up to ski today. We just had so much fun, goofed around and there were really good vibes. Great event to start the season!
Keystone’s Backyard Barbecue and Rail Session was the perfect segue from a long, hot summer into what will hopefully be a cool, snow-filled winter. Bring it on winter!
Big thanks to Keystone for putting together this fun early season event, head here to check out all the photos.
Photos courtesy Tucker Burton/Keystone Resort