Back for a second year, the Backyard BBQ Rail Jam, the first competition in the A51 Rail Series, hits Keystone Resort on Saturday with 25 tons of “snow.”
“We ordered it through an ice company,” said Kevin Laverty, terrain park manager for Keystone Resort. “It’s shaved ice in 40-pound bags, which then will be moved by some fork lifts, but mainly by hand, into place in the rail jam area.”
Laverty said the park crew has gone through about a two-week process to ready the event area for the arrival of the ice tonight.
“It starts with coming up with the plan, the idea, designing the features, bringing in the dirt to bring it to life from the rendering,” he said. “Then we’ll start setting rails and using different fabrics and carpets to lay on the dirt so the snow doesn’t slide away.”
Skiers and riders will have the opportunity to warm up for the coming season at the Backyard BBQ Rail Jam, the first rail jam of the season in Colorado, testing out new tricks and skills on a multi-rail feature.
“People get really excited, especially with the timing of it,” Laverty said. “Right about this time of year, people get into watching snowboarding videos again, they get that itch to get on their snowboard or skis again.”
This year’s event has moved to a new location in River Run Village, making for not only a great competition setup but also improved spectator vantage points. The West Gondola Parking Lot, located behind the Keystone Sports and Inxpot Village locations, will feature a hillside setup complete with 25 tons of snow and a multi-rail feature that will lead into a wall ride.
Competitors in men’s and women’s ski and snowboard divisions will have plenty of room for coming up with creative ways to try out tricks in hopes of walking away with prizes such as cash, gift cards, GoPros, Never Summer Snowboards, Red Bull and much more. The competition, especially the snowboard side of it, sells out quickly, Laverty said, and the feedback from the event has been really good.
“It brings an exciting vibe, and it’s a great way to let our guests know that we we’re getting ready for the season and thinking about snow, and it’s really cool for them,” he said. “And we push it on social media for people to let them know this is the new stuff we have built this season and we’re looking forward to the season as much or more than they are.”
Visitors can also browse a spectator village filled with vendor tents from local industry favorites, including Never Summer, Candy Grind and Phunkshun Wear. Cold beverages and barbecue will be available on site from Keystone’s culinary team, while tunes spun by DJ Blue Collar Prophet will set the mood. Huge crowd giveaways also will occur throughout the event.
During and following the Backyard BBQ Rail Jam, participants and spectators can meander into River Run Village for the first annual Keystone Oktoberfest, featuring Colorado beers and plenty of German food. Festivities begin at 2 p.m. with free live music from Those Austrian Guys from the village plaza stage, accompanied by traditional polka dancers.
“It’s pretty exciting to see snow in September and see people having a lot of fun at the ski resort,” Laverty said. “We offer a barbecue, an Oktoberfest with food — kind of a nice end of the summer kickoff to winter.”