Meet Me in The Sticks, a rail jam-style event, will take place Saturday, April 15 at Mt. Baker Ski Area. Organizers of the event are aiming to cater to all abilities in this upcoming rail jam.
The event will be the first competition in The Sticks, the ski area’s freestyle feature zone. Whether you’ve spent seasons riding freestyle features or this is your first time, a rail jam can be a fun way to meet people who share a love for skiing and snowboarding.
While this is the first competition in The Sticks, it’s not the first freestyle competition hosted at the site. The last freestyle event was held around 2010 and took place on the other side of the resort, according to Eliah Drake, Mt. Baker Ski Area’s freeride feature zone manager.
A rail jam refers to a type of event where skiers and snowboarders compete in a small area on a variety of obstacles. The features in a rail jam can be made out of snow or other materials not usually found on the mountain.
Features typically found in a rail jam include boxes, rails, small jumps and other items like barrels to jump off. Typically, riders are judged on the difficulty of the tricks they do and their creativity when riding the course.
Meet Me in The Stick won’t have any formal judges, unlike many other competitions like the Over the Top rail jam at Crystal Mountain Resort. Instead, competitors will be judged by fellow competitors. After the 45-minute session, competitors will vote for a winner.
The competition will have three different categories of participants – beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each category competes at different times and has a limit of 25 participants, selected first come first serve with their online sign-ups. The different categories will each crown a winner for their own session.
Drake said the various categories cater to everyone and ensure they feel comfortable and have fun.
“[We] have that full range right now of beginner features, intermediate and some advanced features,” Drake said.
Mt. Baker Ski Area also made a point of emphasizing its “no sandbagging” rule. The website says participants should know if they’re a beginner or advanced, and if they’re in between, they’re intermediate.
Many people know Mt. Baker Ski Area for its mind-blowing terrain in and around the ski area. Oftentimes, avid skiers and snowboarders forget that the ski area offers a freestyle zone.
However, when Drake noticed an increase in usage of the freestyle zone, he decided it would be a good time for an event in the zone.
Last season, The Sticks only had wooden features. Drake said since this is the first year they have had metal features, they have seen more usage of the freestyle zone. Metal rails are more common than wooden ones and people often find them easier to ride.
“[I’m] probably most excited for just seshing with some skilled park riders and seeing people throw down tricks,” said Malcolm Henry, who plans to participate in the rail jam. “I don’t get that opportunity as much at Baker because it’s more of a freeride mountain.”
Mt. Baker Ski Area doesn't have any more rail jams planned for this season, but participants hope to see it return.
“I definitely think Baker should keep doing events like this, especially with the improvements they have made to the park this season. I’ve always wanted a better park at Baker, and they have really stepped it up this year. [It] helps inspire people who wouldn’t have done much park riding before to get after it,” Henry said.
In January, The Front covered a rail jam Boardworks Tech Shop hosted in downtown Bellingham.
Nate Braks, co-owner of Boardworks, said he’s stoked Mt. Baker Ski Area is hosting a rail jam of their own with plenty of snow and features available to work with.
“I'm assuming they'll have a pretty rad set up for their rail jam,” Braks said.
Mt. Baker Ski Area will also keep a set of features open for people who aren’t in the competition to ride. Drake said there will be room for spectators to watch the competition from this area.
Each participant paid a $20 entry fee and registration closed April 11. The first session will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 15 and the competition should be wrapped up by 2:15 p.m.
“This is gonna be the first rail jam I’ve ever ridden in. Definitely a little nervous, especially because I haven’t had the chance to get up to Baker in the last two weeks,” Henry said. “But I’m just gonna show up and have a good time [and] see if I can do anything cool.”
Ben Delaney (he/him) is a city life reporter for The Front. He is a junior majoring in environmental studies journalism. In his free time, he enjoys skiing at Mt Baker, fishing on local rivers, and just spending time outdoors. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.