Riders go off rails
VAIL – Some boards seem to have a magnetic attraction to rails, and dozens of riders decided to experiment with this strange science Sunday.Having just been inspired by the sight of the best pros from around the world competing in rails and slopestyle contests earlier in the weekend, more than 130 snowboarders of all ages and abilities turned out to try their slide in Sunday’s public rail competition. Kyle Cartwright won the advance men’s contest and Vail’s Julya Chapman won for advance women, competing on the same course that the pros rode Friday and Saturday.Although there weren’t thousands of dollars in cash prizes, Cartwright and Chapman won season passes to Vail for the 2005-06 season.Most riders in all three categories – advance, intermediate and beginner – threw different variations of 50-50s and boardslides. Chapman, 15, followed suit with her winning run, but said the toughest maneuvers on rails involve spins, landings and takeoffs while riding switch (on the opposite foot).”I’d say 270 on and 270 off is the hardest thing,” Chapman said. “I practice a lot of switch when I freeride. You have to get used to that.”
When flesh meets metalChapman said that getting hurt was something else most rail riders have to get used to when they learn. One young rider in the amateur contest learned that mercilessly early on in his rail career Sunday, when he was back-boarded by ski patrol and taken away after a neck injury sustained during a fall while trying to boardslide.”I think the key is staying smart about your progression,” said Rachel Vogel of Boulder, who, along with Scott Cherry from Fort Lupton, won the intermediate contest. “As long as you stay smart and work on getting solid on the easy things, then it’s easier to progress and try new things,” Vogel said. “You’re going to fall. I think some of it comes down to luck. I know people who have broken their collarbones on a catwalk, yet they’ll huck 720s over tables in the park. I think a little bit of it is karma.”Karma was definitely working on Vogel’s side. She won a new snowboard in her first-ever rail contest, where she was inspired to boardslide for the first time.
Dillon’s Misty McMillan, who won the beginner contest along with Reeve Sanders of Edwards, had similar karma and first-timer’s luck.”I’ve never done a boardslide – that was my first time ever,” she said.Getting past the mental scrapAnd what’s the secret to staying upright?”Being calm and still – keeping your body calm,” McMillan said. “You start with 50-50. You ride on and stay straight.”
For those of us whose teeth hurt at the mere sight of rails, getting past one’s fear, competitors say, is another big step towards rail success.”It’s just not being afraid of it,” Vogel said. “I don’t have any idea what I’m doing, but I just try it. I used to never go through the park, but as soon as I was able to kind of let go and have fun, it’s great. When you’re having fun, you can overcome your fear.”Even the pros have fear. Josh Dirksen, who took seventh in Saturday’s slopestyle competition, was helping international pro judge Scott Mason size up the competition in the amateur category Sunday.”A lot of kids see rails in videos and they get hyped and they want to do it,” Dirksen said. “But the basics are where you want to start. If you hop on right, the rest will go well. You want to start with 50-50s and work your way up.”So, how is riding metal different that riding mountains?”You don’t have edges to use,” Dirksen said. “It’s kind of different because you can’t use your edges. If you try to use your edges, you just kind of slip out. It’s different, for sure.”Vail Colorado
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