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At CU’s first annual Kings of Campus Rail Jam, 64 skiers and snowboarders competed in front of a crowd of over 2,500 people — and they pulled it off with undeniable style.
The all-student ski and snowboard competition, which took place near the Kittredge parking lot on CU’s campus on Friday, featured a course made with snow donated by Winter Park Mountain Resort.
Even though it was a stacked field, there could only be two Kings and two Queens of Campus. In the ski competition, junior Jeremy Brown was crowned the King of Campus while senior Alexis Keeney was crowned Queen. In the snowboard competition, senior Scott Thompson was given the royal crown and a 2013 Never Summer snowboard. Senior Sierra Murphy won the female snowboard competition. Each champion also was guaranteed a $300 prize.
“It meant a lot because I got to hang out with my friends and ride hard,” Thompson said. “This was the first-ever Kings of Campus Rail Jam, so I’m honored to be the first.”
During the first open heat, where all of the riders and skiers were able to show off their skills to the large crowd, there were a lot of wipeouts. Even through the crashes and slip-ups, though, these athletes didn’t let the pressure of the crowd get to them.
“I’m just here to have a good time,” said sophomore CU freestyle ski team member Ian Simpson. “I don’t really care how many people are here, it’s all going to be fun.”
The competition’s judges had three criteria in mind when choosing the champions.
“We’re looking for creativity, technical tricks and the difficulty of tricks,” said junior judge Tyler Winograd. “You definitely have to change up your style [to get to the finals], and with that you have to have some style of your own. You have to make it look good for sure.”
Both the ski and snowboard competitions included a 45-minute open heat, when the riders could choose between a big down rail and down box. With little snow on the course due to the late arrival of the last two trucks of snow from Winter Park Mountain Resort, there were a lot of big wipeouts. Still, as a crowd partied right underneath the features to the dance tracks of DJ Tipsy, the wipeouts were just part the Rail Jam’s entertaining atmosphere.
After the first heats, the field was cut down to the top 10 athletes. Trucks dumped more snow onto the course to make way for a secret feature made especially for the finals.
The secret feature included a large, plastic construction wall as a ramp that went into a huge triangle feature that was topped with a long, round PVC pipe that stood eight feet above its landing.
The finals were where the “royal” talent really came out in the athletes.
From huge backflips and front flips to super-steezy 720s, the Kings and Queens of Campus showed they have what it takes to go out in front of their fellow classmates and stomp big air. Even though it was competitive between the riders throughout the entire event, there was a strong sense that these guys were just a bunch of friends having fun and putting on a show for all of the spectators.
“It was just super fun skiing with a lot my classmates and being in front of everyone on campus,” said King of Campus Jeremy Brown. “The setup was so good and the atmosphere between all of us[athletes] was really mellow. All around, this event was really fun.”
After two 20-minute finals heats, the Kings of Campus Rail Jam was over, but its legacy was just born.
“It was exactly how I imagined it,” said Rail Jam co-creator Colton Chorpenning. “We had a lot of people here, a lot of sponsors that gave away a bunch of free stuff, and it was an amazing time for everyone that was able to be a part of it.”
Judge Raul Pinto of Satellite Board Shop said this year’s Rail Jam was much better than the ski events Boulder has had in past years.
“I think it’s great to have an event that’s really just about campus,” Pinto said. “We’ve done this event for years now. It started as ‘Heavy Metal on the Hill’ and now it has evolved into something that’s really just for campus 100 percent.”
Boulder Freeride president and Rail Jam co-creator Logan Spence said that now that it has become a part of campus, Rail Jam is here to stay and is only going to get bigger.
“This event is going to become a tradition for years to come at CU,” Spence said. “We’re just going to keep it going and make sure that all those skiers and snowboarders at CU get a chance to show up big in front of all of their classmates.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Joseph Wirth at Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org.