The 11 th annual Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s athletic side got off to a good start on the weekend with an extremely well-attended McDonald’s Rail Jam, and the inaugural Stompede slopestyle.
McDonald’s Rail Jam
Set up on a mass of scaffolding outside the GLC, invited skiers and borders had the choice between a narrow box and a rail. Judges scored every spin, grind and press, and in the end chose the top athletes based on their best runs of the evening.
Despite the cold and periods of snow, a massive crowd of thousands took to Skiers' Plaza on Saturday night. TWSSF organizers are estimating that the crowd was in the 10,000 range.
With a dozen snowboarders and equal number of skiers taking part the contest moved quickly.
There was only one winner for each category.
Matt Dano of Quebec, one of the most aggressive and stylish riders in an aggressive and stylish group, took the men’s snowboard title.
Molly Milligan, a Whistler rider, claimed the women’s title with solid spins on and off the rail – not bad for someone who hasn’t been riding rails all season.
"I was definitely a little nervous at first, I haven’t competed in a rail jam for a long time and didn’t know how it would go. I’ve hit two or three rails all season," she said.
"I was pumped. After I hit the rail a couple of times I started to feel really comfortable and started trying tricks I don’t usually try. I was surprised I managed to land as much as I did.
"Just being in a contest with stairs involved makes you really concentrate."
Milligan has competed in a few urban rail jams in her day, but never for a crowd as large as the one on Saturday night. For all the faces and flash bulbs in the crowd she said the athletes were mainly focused on their next tricks.
"There was a little conversation here and there, but otherwise all you were thinking about is the next trick and the rail in front of you and that’s it," she said. "It was cool to get the applause, the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, that definitely gave me a boost, but you really had to have your head in the game."
Corey Vanular of Ontario won the men’s ski competition with his switch riding, and change-ups on the rail. Not bad for a skier just completing his senior year of high school.
The women’s ski contest went to Kaya Turski of Quebec/Squamish, a pro inline skater who was also impressive in the women’s Stompede qualifier. Kaya went just a little bigger and faster than the other athletes, and rode consistently all evening.