Off The Hill: Summit locals slay it at the Snowboard On The Block rail jam (video)
Summit Daily correspondent
I traveled to Denver on Sept. 12 for the annual Snowboard On The Block Festival. This event is to the snowboard premiere season what Breck’s Freeway is to terrain parks: It’s the first, it’s one of the biggest, there’s always amazing riding and gear you’ve never seen and, even on a hot day in early fall, there are big industry stars casually cruising by.
The event is held in a “block” of industrial buildings in the RiNo district near Coors Field. Before moving the event downtown, it was held at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and called Snowboard On The Rocks. I attended SOTB years back, and it was a great Red Rocks memory, with 6,000 excited snowboarders filling the historic venue. The numbers have grown, the venue has changed and SOTB has grown to be an even larger party that encompasses all things snowboarding. The excitement level was high — the festival has come to represent the first sign of the winter season to come.
Premiere season is a sacred time of year in the snowboard business, a first glimpse at videos from film crews big and small. The excitement of fall and the need to prepare for winter make this festival/gear sale/party the pre-prom you’re probably pissed you missed. For me, highlights from this year include showing our second Nightmare team movie, “Last Champions,” to a packed house in the Transworld Theater and seeing the pals compete in the Monster Am Rail Jam and the Van’s Off The Wall Pro Rail Jam.
The summer rail jam is a favorite to watch at the Block festival. Some of Summit’s best local riders were throwing down at the Am Jam, including Greyson Clifford, Tylor Berreth, Ben Elliot, Zach Soderholm, Brendan Sullivan, Cody Potter, Chris Sypert, Sean Murphy, Matt Coughlin and Josh Carreola. It was only a short jam, with about five to six drops a piece for the riders. In the end, it was my Nightmare teammate, Carreola, who won and got to compete with the pros in the Van’s Off The Wall Pro Jam directly thereafter.
The Pro Jam brought a few big names out to the summer set-up, including the one and only Lucas Magoon, plus Colorado’s own Brendan Gerard and Dylan Alito. It was a close contest, and crowd favorite Carreola came close to toppling the big-time pros. He won best trick and was barely bested by the destroyer of all things (and current owner of the Snowboard Colorado cover), Dylan Alito.
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Movies, movies and movies
The biggest draw of the Block festival is the season premiere of movies from around the industry, when highly-anticipated works from the past season are shown to the masses for the first time.
The amount of work that goes into these offerings is staggering. The snowboard movie is one part holy art form, one part flea circus caught on tape. The first videos I saw, with names like “The Hard, The Hungry and The Homeless” and “The Resistance” showed me a glimpse of a world I wanted to be a part of. They hold a special place in any rider’s heart and serve as something of a timeline for our sport — you can watch someone’s hard work pay off through the years.
I saw Ethan Diess and Alito in the Role Model videos (made by Justin Langer here in Summit) years ago. This year, they were both featured in the Snowboarder Mag movie “SFD” and are now arguably household names in the biz.
The snowboard movie is, to some degree, the measuring stick by which we compare others or ourselves. But it’s also a celebration of the past year’s accomplishments — and snowboarding as a whole. Watching a huge audience explode in approval and excitement at every unbelievable trick is something I love about snow/skate films. Being surrounded by like-minded shred enthusiasts is the way a video should be watched, versus, say, watching “The Art of Flight” at the Apple Store.
We showed our movie to a packed house in the Transworld Theater, and it was raucous. There were ample hoots and hollers and clapping and cheering, and a mini-riot when we threw a snowboard to the crowd. It was excited energy, the way a premiere should be, and I believe it served its purpose in making everyone just really want to go snowboard.
For more about this year’s Snowboard On The Block, see my full write-up in the Angry Snowboarder.
Z Griff is first and foremost a snowboarder. A longtime local, he is an adventure writer for the everyman. He can be seen as the winter host of On The Hill at http://www.summitdaily.com or vimeo.com/user/zgriff and reached at ZGriff_1@hotmail.com.
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