Skiers throw down at Downtown Showdown

Pat Pearson

A stone’s throw from Lake Superior on North Front St., last Saturday, Feb. 21, the third annual Downtown Showdown Rail Jam brought together the best amateur skiers and snowboarders in the U.P. to compete and showcase their talent.

The Marquette Downtown Development Authority hosts the Rail Jam every February to show off the excitement of the local ski scene to the streets of historic downtown Marquette.

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“The skiers were a little more competitive than the snowboarders,” sophomore business major Pat Clancy said. “The skiers just went out there and killed it.”

The event started at 3 p.m. with a three-hour open jam for both skiers and snowboarders to practice their tricks. Following this, the judges watched the skiers who had the course for an hour. Snowboarders took the course for an hour after.

By what the judges saw from each session, finalists in the men’s and women’s ski and snowboarding divisions were selected to compete in the finals from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the awards ceremony to wrap up the night.

Senior business entrepreneurship major, Elliot Karafa, took first place in the men’s skier division.

This was Karafa’s third time participating in the competition and second time taking first place. Karafa said this year he knew he had to pull off tricks that would make him stand out from the rest. Karafa had to overcome adversity in the latter half of the finals as he attempted the same trick three times in a row before stomping it.

“I was trying to do a blind two, screamin’ semen,” Karafa said. “Basically it’s a 270 off of the box and then cross your skis and land with your skis crossed. I was trying that because it would set me apart from the other guys.”

Special commemorative tributes in honor of Cody Revord, a local snowboarder, were made during the jam.

Revord passed away last Wednesday from a snowboarding-related head injury. He participated in the Rail Jam in previous years and had a great passion for the sport.

To honor him, skiers and spectators held a moment of silence in Revord’s honor, and Casualties, a local skate shop, designed a special commemorative snowboard given to Revord’s family. Revord’s parents, Gary and Lori, donated a ski helmet to the first and second place winners in each division.

The course featured a kink rail and flat box toward the top of the hill. Midway down, there was a 12-foot rail. The bottom featured a slim 15-foot long ascending box on the right side, a kicker (small jump) in the center and on the left The Compound Ski Shop donated a vintage car that had a rainbow box arching over the length of it.

Sophomore business major, Pat Clancy, said the event is always something to look forward to but this year the skiers were the main attraction.

Snowboarders had a tough time making it down to the features at the bottom due to the hill incline and lack of speed. As a result, snowboarders were judged on the features at the top and middle areas of the course, according to Tom Hocking, a Downtown Showdown snowboard judge.

“This year speed is an issue,” Hocking said. “Snowboarders can’t seem to get enough speed to hit the main features at the bottom, so we are just judging them on the first four rails.”

According to Hocking, competitors were judged on the following criteria: if the rider landed the trick, use of course, style and degree of difficulty. Clancy said though the judging was fine, they seemed to like more flair than skill or technicality.

“The judging was OK because they were a little too cliché about it,” Clancy said. “They seem to judge a popular trick, like a back flip, higher than more technical tricks, like a 450 out.”