A veteran snowboarder and a new freestyle ski team member ruled supreme at the second annual Sandor’s Icebreaker Rail Jam at Mt. Sima last Friday night.
Eight snowboarders and 10 freestyle skiers braved frigid conditions, occasionally breaking to warm by the bonfire and enjoy the tunes blasted over the course like the floodlights used to illuminate the rails.
Max Melvin-McNutt, 17, the first Yukoner ever to make BC’s provincial team, was top-dog on the rails for the snowboarders. For the skiers, Dylan Reed outperformed the competition for a first-place finish.
“It’s great; it’s a lot of fun. That’s all I can say,” said Melvin-McNutt. “It’s all about having fun. I had a good time.”
Melvin-McNutt, who finished second in the inaugural competition, was throwing down the 270s. Among his tricks were a switch 270 to front-board 270 out, a front-blunt to 270 out, front-side 270 to 270 out, and a front-side 270 to board-side 270 out.
“I got everything (I was hoping for),” said Melvin-McNutt. “I’ve been training so much, so I’ve been progressing. I’ve got new tricks.”
A year ago at the Canada Winter Games, Melvin-McNutt finished in eighth in the half-pipe for his Yukon’s best finish in snowboarding. At the 2010 Arctic Winter Games he was awarded the overall silver in the juvenile boys division, winning gold in the half-pipe, bronze in the snowboardcross.
Taking second was Adam Waddington, last year’s winner of the U-16 category. He qualified for the finals with a backside 270 on to a switch-up with a 270 off. “That was probably my best trick of the night,” said Waddington. “I was working on it in the finals, I just couldn’t land it.”
In the finals Waddington did a 50-50 to a backside 270 out.
“I feel pretty good about it,” said Waddington. “When I heard the crowd (cheer), I was so stoked to go back up and do something even cooler.”
Tim Schirmer, the only U-16 boarder in the competition, took some big risks to land third overall. Schirmer, who was the Yukon champion last season, landed a backside 360 to 5-0.
“Tim’s was definitely a pretty sensational trick with a high risk factor,” said Mary Binstead, head coach for Snowboard Yukon. “But he wasn’t able to ride away from it clean, which is why he ended in third place.”
One could say Reed “slipped” into first for the skiers. The 15-year-old secured the top-spot with a lip-slide front slip-up with a lip-side front 270 out. In fact, it was the first time he pulled off a lip-slide.
“It was actually fairly easy,” said Reed. “I’m pretty stoked. I didn’t think I was going to win but it turned out good.”
Reed and a number of other skiers just completed a weeklong training camp with Yukon Freestyle Ski Association head coach Stu Robinson.
“Dylan is the new member of the team and he made a ton of improvements this week and it really ended up showing at the rail jam,” said Robinson. “He beat out some of the veterans and showed that his training paid off.”
Another skier testing his limits was Aiden Allen, performing a K-Fed – a front-slop to a back 270 off – to take second.
“I’ve never tried it in my life,” said Allen. “I wasn’t doing too well in the warmup, but somehow the pressure helped me.
“I was not really expecting it. I came around and pulled off the 270 and rode it out.”
Last year’s winner, Josh Harlow, took third with a back-slop on the kink with a 270 out.
“I didn’t land the tricks I was trying to land,” said Harlow. “Dylan was killing it, landing new tricks, so he deserved it.”
If Shayla Hamilton didn’t have enough pressure from competing in her first ever rail competition, she had the added pressure of being the only female competitor – for skiers and boarders. However, the competition did provide the motivation to try something new: a 90 on the box rail.
“I attempted landing the switch, but it didn’t work out too well and I bailed,” said the 13-year-old. “But it was fun either way.”
Local snowboarders and freestyle skiers have a lot to be excited about this season. With Whitehorse hosting the upcoming Arctic Winter Games, Mt. Sima’s halfpipe will be open for the first time since Whitehorse hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007.
“We’re very excited about that,” said Binstead.
“We’re waiting to see how the halfpipe plays out at Sima and if we have a good training facility then we’ll go to the Canada Olympic Park halfpipe competition in February,” said Robinson.
In addition to the halfpipe reopening, Mt. Sima’s terrain park was rebuilt during the summer. Snowboard Yukon is working towards having a full-time snowboard-cross course at the ski resort.
Unfortunately for Yukon’s freestyle skiers, the sport has been dropped from the upcoming Arctic Games and the following installment in Greenland in 2014. (Alpine skiing has remained as an event.) But Yukon freestyle skiers will conduct a “jumps and bumps” demonstration at the Games.
“Unfortunately the Arctic Winter Games have to cut back on sports (for) Greenland because they have to cut 1,500 (athlete) spots,” said Robinson.
“So any sport not represented gender-wise, as well as area-wise, has been cut. There was no reason why we couldn’t go in this one. There are plenty of people who could go … After Greenland maybe we’ll get the chance to go back in again.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org