This Monday the Niseko Adventure Centre made a huge effort to put on the biggest Rail Jam of the season.
To watch the video click here: Niseko NAC Rail Jam Video
The massive amounts of snow that had been piled up outside NAC over the winter was put to good use as the NAC crew, with a little help from Grand Hirafu shapers, created an impressive looking set-up. Their was even enough snow to carve-out a judges booth and viewing stand. Supported by a little scaffolding, the run-in was a good two stories tall, leading into a small gap jump and basic down rail.
The impressive looking set-up brought in a good crowd, and as the sun fell, the spectators slowly filled the stands. Families, ski bums and punters alike turned up to see what might go down. The amount of willing competitors was even more impressive as the rail jam filled up in no-time. I don't know if there was a cap on the number of people in the grab comp, but it didn't seem like it.
As the punters frequented the bar and food stalls, the seasonaires drank from tins in plastic bags, while the riders warmed up and tried to get some tricks locked down on the two features. The icy and narrow run-in looked too scary for some, and speed was an issue for the jump. The spins were capped at 360, and stylish grabs were the order of the day. The rail had a high entry point and riders again, didn't look any more comfortable hitting the metal pipe, than they did queuing for the drop. However some class acts shone through, and a few nice tricks were being landed.
Under the lights of competition time, the ladies had difficulty locking in on the rail, but after a couple of hits some stylish presses, slides and 180-outs were thrown down. The mens rail jam had a similarly slow start and speed issues meant some riders went from the highest run-in or had to jump up the ramp before setting off. Some 180-ons were locked-in and eventually we got to some nice 270-offs and a couple of 270-ons. There was definitely some good talent on show, making the best of the low-light and icy conditions. All things considered, the rail-jam went down well and it was a lot of fun.
The grab comp was a little busy and most competitors only took one jump. The jump was well lit, but once the riders disappeared into the darkness of the air it was difficult to see what was being thrown. I managed to see a few methods, some nose-tail grabs and some smooth back-1's. Pre-comp favourite Andrew Davey commented "it was stupid! You could go and que for another 30 minutes and get one more hit. Or… you could just get drunk."
So as the jump comp faded into the night, sobriety faded into oblivion. It was great to see a gathering of Niseko's riders come together and put on a show. Despite a few issues (as per normal with a rail jam) it was a fun event, and I hope we see a few more before May rolls around.