Rail series jammin'
With more competitors, spectators and prizes, plus improved features, event goes to next level.
Miles Finley pulls off a heelside melon during the Wednesday Night Lights Snow Jam at the terrain park at Snow King. PRICE CHAMBERS / NEWS&GUIDEView our entire photo gallery >>
By Miller N. Resor, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
March 20, 2013
The fourth annual Wednesday Night Lights Snow Jam had more competitors in more age groups and more spectators than ever before, organizers of the series said.
“This year we had the biggest turnout since the event started four years ago,” said Jeff Moran, director of the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club’s freeride program and head snowboard coach.
Moran attributed the event’s success to excellent new features made possible by private donations to the ski club. He also credited a long list of sponsors whose donations fuel an enormous raffle and big prizes at each of the series’ four events.
Moran joined Jackson Hole native and Olympic snowboarder Rob Kingwill to bring the rail jam at the base of Snow King Mountain to life.
Kingwill said the idea came from his own childhood experience snowboarding on the King. He remembers when there was a giant slalom series for ’boarders beneath Rafferty.
Kingwill believes that having the regular competitive event made him the snowboarder he is today.
With Moran, he devised the plan to hold the rail jam. This year’s course, Moran said, was better than ever.
The rail jam is open to all ages, with divisions for male and female snowboarders and skiers as well as awards for the best groms, aka less-experienced little guys generally younger than 13.
Moran said the mix of ages gives “young kids a nonlimited, competitive experience that pushes their limits in a fun setting.”
This year’s competition was held Feb. 20 and 27 and March 6 and 13.
On March 13, the final night of competition, more than 190 kids were signed up. The three athletes who won that night further distinguished themselves by winning the series in their events.
The March 13 champion and overall snowboarding champion Jack Hessler, 17; skiing champion Daniel Tisi, 13, and women’s ski and snowboard champion Morgan Kilmain, 9, were called up to the podium by Kingwill. In addition to winning the series, each received a $50 gift certificate to Thai Me Up, but Kingwill also had something else in mind for the overall winners.
Each rider received a potted clipping of a Jade plant Kingwill cherishes in his own home and has shared with every overall winner in the contest since its inception. Kingwill also awarded the victors bison statues to which he attached artwork from his company, Avalon 7.
Finally, each of the winners took home $100 cash and a 2013-14 Snow King season ski pass.
Tisi said the series is fun because he gets to see his friends and do a bunch of rails.
“The park is awesome,” he said. “The new rails are really nice, real smooth and really fast. They are really fun to ride.”
Kilmain said she likes the event because she gets to catch “big air” and “you get to ski later than you are supposed to.”
Prizes also were given for the best ski and snowboard tricks of the night.
Coleman Cook was tops among the skiers with a “450 gap to disaster on the apex rail,” and Ben Hood landed a “180 gap on the apex rail” to take home the award for best snowboard trick.
Nick Dunn, 10, won the final event and the overall award for best grom skier, as did Brian Jon Raichert for the snowboarders.
Dunn said he improved by having his friends push him. He was working on landing a 720.
Jimmy Hessler, 16, younger brother of the champion snowboarder, said he has been snowboarding with Moran for seven years with the freeride program.
He thinks the rail jam is unique and cool.
“Usually towns themselves don’t have rail jams like this,” he said. “I think it is really cool they put something like this together.”