Arapahoe Basin’s Rail Jam a celebration of spring fever |

Arapahoe Basin’s Rail Jam a celebration of spring fever

Sunday, May 24, was a busy day at the Basin, with a Festival of the Brewpubs and concert from Funky Johnson.
Leo Wolfson / Special to the Daily |

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is well-known for its one-of-a kind, untamed ski culture. Spring is a particularly good time for that at the Basin.

Last weekend, the spring atmosphere was in full-force in the form of rails, refreshments and rhythm. The Basin simultaneously held a Spring Rail Jam, the 14th Annual Festival of the Brewpubs and a concert. Skiing is still at nearly 100-percent open terrain.

Thousands of people showed up for May 24, and all three of the Basin’s parking lots were filled up by late morning.

The Spring Rail Jam was the first event of the day. Rail jams in the springtime have long been a staple at A-Basin. When other mountains close, talented freestyle boarders and skiers flock to the mountain to get their terrain-park fix. This year was no different, as around 25 competitors showed up for the jam.

“It’s always a great unifying event for people who otherwise would be doing different things. Park crew did a great job and, it’s just all-around good times,” explained competitor Alex Nolan of Dillon.

The only difference this year was the location of the jam. Two rails were set directly below the Black Mountain Lodge, giving those hanging out on the deck a great view of the action.

“It was a nice little surprise and some nice lunch entertainment,” said spectator Brendan Lamarre of Denver.

Snowboarders dropped into the rails first, throwing a variety of presses and spins.

Eight-year-old snowboarder Harvey Tyler was one of the most impressive, throwing smooth 50-50 (straight on the rail) to 180s out of the big down rail. Tyler already has great style and will be a name to watch out for in the future. He won the 15-and-under division Sunday.

Monica Harris represented well for the females, throwing spins out of every rail, as well as sliding on the nose and tail of her board like there was no tomorrow.

Zach “Z-Griff” Griffin walked away with with 1st place for men’s snowboard. Griffin had a slow start but then started landing massive gap airs out of the kinked rail and complex tricks on the straight rail.

“Snowboarding is small puzzles, and, through repetition, you try and piece it together,” he said.

Skiers were up next and did not disappoint. Zach Ryan and Brian Kish left no rail unscathed, performing a variety of spins on and off the features. Kish had some amazing switch ups (spinning while on rail) to switch 50-50s (landing on the rail backwards), that left many in attendance impressed by his courage. Ryan also threw bold maneuvers, like big airs on to the rails and unnatural spins on and off the features.

Harris won for Women’s Snowboard and Ryan took top honors in Men’s Ski.

“It was so much fun; anytime you can get on-snow this time of year, it’s going to be a good time,” Ryan said.

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