Words & Photos: Laura Austin
Leave it up to Nike to turn your local mountain rail jam into what you might think was a giant dance party on the hill, until you set your eyes on the amazing setup they put together. On the night of January 6th Nike took over "The Playground" of Mountain High as the second stop of the Nike Chosen Rail Jam circuit. Full blown with lighting effects, fog, and blasting music making for a visually entertaining experience even aside from all the crazy riding that went down.
The course consisted of three different drop-in points. One of which led you into a big rainbow box basically on top of a hip, a cement down ledge, or a two-rail stair set. These features then dropped you into three different quarterpipes varying in sizes. The format was simple, 4 15-minute heats in a jam format. The top two riders from each heat would be selected to move into the 30-minute final.
You could tell the riders were amped up, some practically running back to the top to get in as many runs as they could. With the atmosphere of the rail jam it was hard not to be into it… music bumping and the course lit up like a Christmas tree. The 8 riders who advanced onto the finals were no surprise, clear standouts from each of the heats: Kyle Lopiccolo, Erik Leon, Ryan Paul, Ian Sams, Jager Bailey, Mitch Richmond, Spencer Link, Dom P, as well as two wildcards, Brendon Simmons and Cory Cronk. You also can't leave out the ladies in the event: Jamie Madrid, Melissa Evans, Dankia Duffy, and Nirvana Ortanez. These four were not afraid to step to all the features and with style I might add.
The final was fast paced and high energy. One obvious standout was Jager Bailey. He appeared to be one of the most consistent riders out there throwing down technical rail trick after technical rail trick. Then of course there is Ryan Paul, a showstopper at any rail jam the kid shows up to. Technical on the rails, creative on the rainbow with a front-flip off the peek of the box, and also utilizing the quarterpipes. Speaking of quarterpipes, Kyle Lopiccolo was one of the few taking full advantage of them topping out at about nine feet, but boosting every time. But in the end it was Ryan Paul who walked away with both $500 for best trick (back 3 to 50-50 on the stairset down rail) and a cool $1,500 for first place. Big Bear local, Ian Sams, slipped into second place coming up on $500. Third place went to powerhouse Jager Bailey who scored a new pair of Nike boots. For the ladies it was Melissa Evans who came out on top and $500 richer.
You have to hand it to Nike for turning what could be your average rail jam into a full on spectacle. It gets the riders pumped up, and keeps the crowd constantly entertained. Keep your eyes open for the next Nike Chosen stop coming to Camelback, PA on January 14th.