Western celebrates 10th annual Rail Jam

A skier glides through the air performing a trick at Rail Jam

Western celebrates 10th annual Rail Jam

Emma Brophy
Photo by: Mar. 6, 2019
 

A longstanding campus tradition at Western Colorado University, this year's Rail Jam put a different spin on the event.

The Rail Jam, put on by Innovation Creativity Entrepreneurship (ICE) Project, allows for students who ski or snowboard to compete against one other.  

Normally, the Rail Jam is located right on campus on Taylor Lawn, but this year to celebrate the 10th Rail Jam, the location moved to Cranor Hill Ski Area, just a few miles away from campus. 

“This allowed us to open [Rail Jam] up as an intercollegiate competition,” said Ryan Zimmerman, a senior at Western and the President of the ICE Project. “We had people come up from the University of Denver, some came from Fort Lewis. It was a good turnout and not just Western students. We had a couple of local riders participate as well.” 

A total of 35 riders competed Saturday, Feb. 9: locals from the Gunnison Valley, and students from the Front Range and schools on the Western Slope. 

The ICE Project also wanted to get Red Bull more involved with Rail Jam, and having it off campus allowed that to be possible. Benny Walter, the Red Bull ambassador for Western, was able to get the Red Bull MXD Truck to come. 

The idea for the venue change was to make Rail Jam bigger and better. Cranor Hill is larger and more suitable for a skiing and snowboarding contest and could hold more spectators. The idea was to invite skiers and snowboarders from all over to come and compete in one of the biggest events put on by the ICE Project. 

Cranor had the capacity to make a more exciting track for competitors. Instead of just two rails, the competitors could choose from three different lanes to go down. They could also get more speed coming down the hill, making the tricks bigger. 

Derek Simpson won first place in the skier division, Sam Hartman won first place in the snowboarder division. Bridgett Schaefer won first place in the women’s division.  

Top prize for the first-place winners was “a day in the life of a Red Bull athlete.” This includes a backcountry day sponsored by Red Bull on their branded snowmobiles. The three winners get to go out in March to have a fun-packed day in the Lake Irwin area. 

First place for the skier division also won a pair of Faction skis and other goodies. First place in the snowboarder division won a Salomon snowboard. First place in women got a Backcountry Access Float pack. 

Keep an eye out for next year's Rail Jam, as the ICE Project plans to make it even bigger and better than years before. 

Story by Western junior Taya Olson.