words and photos: T. Bird
Many argue that Minneapolis is the new metropolitan jibbing mecca, and those people would certainly not be wrong. And to those people who would agree, they are the crowd that Krush Kulesza and his crew at Snowboy Productions are doing all of this for.
For almost a decade, Krush and his company have been hosting one of the world's best rail events in different cities across the country. First in Seattle, then San Fran, and now, the Downtown Throwdown can add Minneapolis/St. Paul to the docket. By offering up $20,000 in prize money and providing a three-tiered scaffolding setup, Krush has single-handedly been doing his part to support the grassroots snowboard events that helped build our entire culture…and he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
Today, under very unpredictable weather and a predictably large crowd, hundreds of Minnesotans showed up to watch some of the best jibbers on the planet battle it out for some serious coin. Though the big names didn't drop till around 2pm, Krush hosted his other brainchild event The Feeders on the course and over a dozen local riders came to try and vie for a spot in the main show. The judging panel, which included Sean Genovese, and Minnesota living legends Jake OE, Joe Sexton, Zac Marben, and Ethan Deiss whittled down the am contestants to three, and they were then given a chance to shred alongside the likes of Andrew Brewer, Brandon Hobush, Dylan Alito, Forest Bailey, Jason Robinson, Ted Borland, Tyler Lynch, Mike Casanova, Johnny Lazzareschi, Ryan Paul, Justin Fronius, Yusaku Hoori, Jaeger Bailey, Brendan Gerard, Jonas Michilot, Mitch Richmond, Jesse Paul, Nial Romanek, and more. The three chosen riders were Aidan Flanagan, Shane Ruprecht, and Drew Poganski, and there's no doubt in anyone's mind after watching them drop in that they aren't well on their way to stardom in snowboarding.
The finals started just as the relentless hail let up and out came the sun on a setup like no other. Krush and his crew constructed a scaffolding monstrosity in downtown Minneapolis consisting of three separate levels. The first level hosted a down rail and a down-flat-down box side-by-side with a pole jam option as well, and just below that were two jersey barriers with an A-frame pole jam in the middle of them while the bottom of the course redirected the riders back toward the barriers with a quarterpipe and two banked walls. It was game on as soon as the sky turned blue, and the Downtown Throwdown proved to be one of the most action packed events I've ever seen in my life. So much so that trying to recall all the action is futile, but luckily for you, we have a video dropping right here in a few days and you can feast your eyes on that for all the day's events. Regardless, Mitch Richmond shut down the quarterpipe at the bottom of the course, Spencer Schubert soapshoe-transferred from board to board, Dylan Thompson executed proper presses and perpendicular front boards in every variation, J-Rob cruised hard, carving around and weaving in and out of the competitors as they dropped, Forest Bailey and Jonas Michilot dabbled at the bottom by using the QP as a drop-in to slide up the barriers, the am squad Feeders killed everything in their path, Ryan Paul was on the tear of a lifetime, Jaeger Bailey threw himself all over and was a crowd favorite, Ted Borland had a hell of a day, Nial Romanek was a standout, and many many other things that happened only an hour ago but in such quick succession that it's nearly impossible to recall correctly. Like I said, wait for the video. It's a hammer.
When all was said and done, it was indeed Ryan Paul who became the third rider (joining only Jed Anderson and Brandon Hobush) to take back-to-back Downtown Throwdown titles. When I queried the judges as to who they thought would take the win halfway through the finals, RP was a unanimous favorite, and the crowd agreed as emcees Preston Strout and Jesse Burtner called his name at the awards. Second place went to Nial Romanek and third to Aidan Flanagan, the young Feeder who earned his keep and reaped the rewards. But that's not all. One of the coolest things about the DTTD is that they pay out up to fifth place, and rounding out the last two spots were Ted Borland in fourth and young Jaeger Bailey in fifth. With the money given out today, Krush and the Snowboy staff have handed out over $100,000 total in the event's history. Talk about nurturing the local scene. Krush epitomizes that sentiment. The Monster Moment Best Trick went to Jesse Paul whose pole jam backflip to 50-50 on the bottom A-frame rail was pretty much impossible (as deemed by everyone in attendance) but he stomped the hell out of it. An impromptu award was given out by Preston and Burtner and their respective companies, Crab Grab and Think Thank for the best trick on the quarterpipe, and that went to Mitch Richmond who backflipped six feet above the deck and came down flat and rode away clean, earning himself a cool $500 to cap off a phenomenal day.
I would personally like to thank Krush and his whole staff for re-instilling my belief that snowboard events on a local level still not only exist, but thrive. The crowd was amped and riders got paid, and anytime that can happen, it's great for snowboarding. If you can ever watch this event live, please do yourself a favor and try like hell to make it happen. I'm glad I did. If not, wait for the video to drop in a few days to catch all of the action that went down. Downtown Throwdown in a wrap, and it was a ridiculously great time.
- Ryan Paul, $8,000.00
- Nial Romanek, $5,000.00
- Aidan Flanagan, $3,000.00
- Ted Borland, $2,000.00
- Jaeger Bailey, $1,000.00
Monster Moment Best Trick
Jesse Paul, pole jam backflip to 50-50 on the A-frame
Thanks Crab! Quarterpipe Award