words: T. Bird
photos: T. Bird and Mary Walsh

There are few companies in the canon of snowboarding that embody what it means to be a snowboarder. Volcom is one of them, and their ideology is stronger than ever. Last week, SNOWBOARDER Magazine hosted our annual event, The Launch, in which a hundred of the best underage snowboarders on earth descend upon one park for a week's worth of shooting. Volcom hosted their annual event, the Peanut Butter and Rail Jam Championships at the end of The Launch, so it worked out phenomenally well due to the fact that many of our Launch participants were also riding in the PBRJ this weekend. The Volcom Peanut Butter and Rail Jam is a traveling circus, of sorts. With multiple stops around the world, the regional winners from all of the locations where the event was held are shepherded to Mammoth Mountain, California for a year-end event in which the most talented young minds in rail riding take the main stage to try their hand at riding with their peers and trying to take the top spot on the podium.

This year, although the west coast didn't have as much snow to work with as they have in years past, TJ Dawoud and his crew of dedicated diggers pushed up an amazing venue for The Launch and the PBRJ Championships. With three features sitting side-by-side up top and one giant pink hitching post/lift tower stall, there was plenty for these kids to do all day long. For the first few hours, they held qualifiers and the riders' best trick on each individual feature was tallied and the top twenty advanced to finals for the men and the women. Early standouts in all the age brackets included Miles Fallon, Chandler Hunt, Milo Malkoski, Jed Sky, Matt Williams, Drayden Gardner, Reid Smith, Cody Hyman, Liam Whiley, Benny Milam, Mariah Dugan, Danika Duffy, Kyle Kennedy, Joss McAlpin, Kael Hill, Matt Shaffer and Buzz Holbrook, among others. Personally, I must say that I can't believe how far rail jams have come. Twelve or so years ago, if a rider put down a clean front board on a down bar they would win every rail jam they entered, along with the thousands of dollars in prize money that accompanies said win. But today, form what I saw, a clean front board doesn't even get applause. The amount of 270s, 450s and hardway tricks I saw put down today—in the qualifying rounds—was mind-boggling. It seems that kids these days aren't even affected by kinks, because the ridiculous tricks they've been doing on down bars has been adapted to much harder rails, walls and hitching posts. It was dizzying trying to keep up with all the action, but amazing nonetheless. And on another aside, it's really awesome as a snowboard journalist to see the new kids. Rail jams rule. They're fast-paced, fun, and even though I may not know the name of every kid that drops in, it's cool to be introduced to the new crop of talent that will one day run the streets.

In the afternoon, finals went down under sunny blue skies with a smattering of clouds and hundreds of fans who turned up to watch the mayhem and meet some of Volcom's big time names like Dan Brisse, Mike Ravelson, Elena Hight and Scott Blum. As the crowd sipped on ice cold beer and cheered like mad, the show started to heat up, both figuratively and literally. It was a phenomenal show and the riding was outstanding but what truly stuck with me when it ended was the fact that today was what snowboarding is about to so many. Hiking a fun setup with your friends, and as I looked up and saw how the kids were interacting it was really refreshing to see them riding together and getting to know each other, because that will continue to happen for years to come. The Volcom PBRJ is a wrap. See below for the full results, and I already can't wait till next year. Huge thanks to everyone at Volcom as well as Mammoth Mountain. Damn, that was fun.

 

RESULTS

16 and Under:
First – Judd Henkes
Second – Cooper Whittier
Third – Drayden Gardnes
Fourth – Luke Zajac
Fifth – Keegan Hosefros

16 to 21:
First – Jake Coleman
Second – Garrett Mackenzie
Third – Zac Zajac
Fourth – Cody Hyman
Fifth – Dillon McDaniels

Ladies:
First – Mariah Dugan
Second – Kayli Hendricks
Third – Laura Rogoski
Fourth – Danika Duffy
Fifth – Ivika Jurgenson

Open:
First – Benny Milam
Second – Matt Shaffer
Third – Jed Sky
Fourth – Kyle Kennedy
Fifth – Mike Skiba

Electric’s Gooeyest Move – Samm Neumann

Rev’d Rider Award – Brendan Sullivan

Fender Award – Buzz Holbrook

The Call of the Wild Man – Wild Style: Missy McAlpin

Ultimate Recover – Eli Lamm