Rail jams bring urban feel to base

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This winter, the Steamboat Ski Area will invite some of the top snow riders in the country to strut their stuff during the SoBe Friday Night Jib-Jams at Gondola Square.

But Cactus Nemec, a 21-year snowboarding veteran and owner of the company that designed the rails for the three-event series, prefers not to refer to the Friday Night Jib-Jams as competitions.

There will be plenty of cash awards for top riders and an overall winner, but Nemec said the idea is to push the sport forward, draw a younger, more diverse crowd to the Steamboat Ski Area and introduce the three new rails his company Cactofab created for the SoBe Terrain Park.

"There are no judges. This is more of a jam, not a competition," Nemec said. "It's about one-upping the guy who went in front of you with a better or more progressive trick."

It's also about showing the general public what tricks are possible on the newly designed rail features, which will find a permanent home in the SoBe Terrain Park after their unveiling at the Jib-Jams. One rail will be introduced at each of the events. After the competition, the apparatus will be moved to the terrain park and available to the general public.

"Steamboat is thrilled to be organizing and hosting an event as progressive as the SoBe Friday Night Jib-Jams," said Doug La Placa, director of marketing for Steamboat. "It's a testament to Steamboat's commitment to the new school of snow riders and our dedication to providing exciting family entertainment."

The athletes that the ski area is inviting to participate in the Jib-Jams include professional skiers and snowboarders and members of the Mavericks Freeride Team at Steamboat. A few invitations will be given to select local and visiting amateur athletes. Contestants will ride the rail as many times as they can during the competition, while being judged by their fellow competitors on style, trick difficulty and overall impression.

Nemec said the event has been styled after successful rider-judged events at other venues in Colorado.

The jib-jams, which are scheduled for Dec. 17, Dec. 31 and Jan.7, will combine music, action sports and top-ranked athletes to create a party-like atmosphere.

The opening jam, Dec. 17, will be held in conjunction with the Ultimate Bumps and Jumps' Jabra Rail Jam. The SoBe event will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. The top two riders will join free skiing's best, including Tanner Hall, C.R. Johnson and Pep Fujas, for the second part of the evening in the Jabra Rail Jam.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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