Words: T. Bird
Thanks to Clayton Shoemaker and his cadre of diggers at Bear Mountain, California, gone are the days of the single stairset rail jam. What I mean by that is not long ago, a single fifteen stair that presented competitive rail riders a down box, a down-flat-down kink rail and a single barrel with a donkey dick was considered progressive. Once jibbers had exhausted every trick, combo, and variation that could be done on such a setup, rail jams simply got stale.
On Saturday, September 22nd, over fifty of the world's best and most promising urban phenoms congregated in the Red Bull Plaza at Bear Mountain to session a setup that would give any resort a run for its money in mid-winter (remember, it's September). Clayton and co. trucked in several tons of ice just to serve the runways and landings of his masterpiece as the competitors stared down the trail at a double-sided Red Bull wallride that was only accessible by gapping over a small island equipped with trees and a closeout rail that posed severely dangerous if one were to come off early. If a rider opted not to drop off of the scaffolding that was needed to garner enough speed for the wallride, they could instead start further down the trail on either side to hit a nice, thick roundbar. Both the rails and the wallride fed directly into a feature dubbed "the parking garage." This behemoth was held up by pillars and the roof was coated with lexan. The sides of the roof, however, were not straight ninety-degree angles but instead were situated around forty-five degrees, allowing the on-hill Hot Dawgers the opportunity to ride them as angled boxes. Sitting atop the transition of the landing were the "dumpsters," also coated with lexan and banked so the riders could bonk, slide, or simply air over them. It was truly a sight to see a setup of this magnitude on the mountain in mid-fall, let alone the close to ten thousand spectators packed into every orifice that wasn't covered in snow.
This year's Hot Dawgs and Hand Rails boasted a field that was stacked with talent, maybe more so than any year in recent memory. After all, if there's one thing that I've learned after half-a-decade of lapping Bear, it's that when they put on an event, the talent is never sparse. Justin Fronius, Scott Vine, Brandon Hobush, San Taxwood, Dylan Alito, Pat Moore, Jonah Owen, Ted Borland, Johnny Brady, Desiree Melancon, Yale Cousino, Spencer Schubert, Ian Sams, Mike Ravelson, Ryan Paul, Melissa Evans, Jaeger Bailey, Dylan Dragotts, and dozens more of today's top street slayers turned out and put on an incredible two-hour show that was webcasted on snowboardermag.com for those that couldn't make it to Big Bear Lake for the live marquee. When the dust settled and the ice melted away under the hot California sun, there were three men and one woman who split the $15,000 prize purse and were thus destined to ten percent their winnings at the afterparty.
For the men, Ian Sams took third place by focusing his efforts on the down rails. He rode everything well, but it was his dissection of the down bars that earned him $1,000 cash. In what was no surprise, Washington wunderkid Jaeger Bailey took second place with a myriad of flips, spins, and tech rail tricks that had the crowd hooting and hollering for the young prodigy all afternoon, and he walked away with $3,000. And in what was–in my opinion–long overdue, Jonah Owen took the men's top spot and the accompanying $10,000. Jonah has been overlooked for far too long and the young Oregonian with no board sponsor showed up with a point to prove and I'll be damned if he didn't prove it. He was hands-down the most dominant rider in the field, picking apart every feature with surgical precision. I personally couldn't be happier for Jonah and every rider in attendance was beyond stoked for him. Well done, Jonah. I hope you're blindingly intoxicated this very second. You earned it. In the women's field, it was Desiree Melancon who took home first place and $1,000, which was no surprise. Desiree's style transcends gender, and her repertoire of tricks is incredibly impressive. Needless to say, Desiree utilized both in Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails today and went home with a well-earned and much-deserved win.
If you missed Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails, be sure to check back to snowboardermag.com for all the photos, words, and recap videos that one could ever want in this ever-shortening preseason. We'll be back next year and I'm absolutely positive that the setup will once again allow for the best preseason snowboard contest in history to continue its legacy as the official kickoff to winter.
Jonah Owen $10,000
Jaeger Bailey $3,000
Ian Sams $1,000