Sun & snow

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Snow's a fickle mistress in Ohio. Some years she's an uninvited guest, wreaking havoc in October and refusing to leave until early May. The next year, parkas and plows at the ready, she defects for nearby suitors.

Weather experts don't expect temperatures to drop much below 40 degrees this week, but skiers and snowboarders can warm up early during the Rail Jam on Saturday afternoon at Antrim Park. This alpine opportunity comes solely from the will of man.

Diehards from the local Aspen Ski & Board shops and Mad River Mountain will bring snow and ice from skating rinks to form short takeoff and landing strips around rails, boxes and other terrain-park features. The warm-weather session is free and open to all area hucksters.

"We'll have at least three urban-style features, and there will be new features specifically for this event," said Brian Papworth, marketing director for Mad River, between welding sessions. "We're hoping to have up to six features, but it's all contingent on the weather."

Being a jam, riders can run as much as possible from 4 to 9:30 p.m. in hopes of winning the prize for best trick. Giveaways and live music will punctuate an event that's anachronistic, out of place and awesome.

The Polaris location experienced some hassles from neighbors when it hosted a similar event last year, but Bryan Duncan thinks they've found a far better location in Antrim. He's expecting more than 300 to attend.

"We started talking to different cities, and some cities wouldn't approve it," the shop manager said. "Columbus was all for it. Antrim has got a good hill, and it's visible from Rt. 315."

Hosting this alpine sport at green space managed by Columbus' Recreation and Parks division also illustrates how snowboarding has evolved during the past decade.

Extreme quickly becomes routine in the snow sports, and experts search constantly for an edge. One way they've found it is in merging mountains and metropolises.

Years ago, most snowboarders were skateboarders first, and they began to create terrain parks with urban, street-style apparatuses alongside half-pipes and tabletops. Rails, picnic tables and other manmade structures now dot even smaller parks, making many in Ohio look like skate parks covered in snow.

The sport expanded in the opposite direction as well.

More recently, athletes on one plank and two have shown an increased interest in hitting the streets -- literally. Snow shoveled into narrow runway patches near a staircase or picnic table at a local high school can mean action long after lifts have stopped.

"We attempt to recreate the street at [Mad River]," Papworth said. "At Antrim, we're trying to take what we offer at the resort to the people and get them excited about the season."

Real snow isn't expected until mid-December, so the Rail Jam is the best thing going for those looking to slide in the next six weeks.

"Even if you're not a skier or a snowboarder, it's a really cool event to come see firsthand," he added.

Movie Madness

After the Rail Jam competition, the Aspen Ski & Board shop will host the local premiere of two snowboard videos making their way across the country. The first is The Boned Age by Grenade Entertainment, which looks to be a hellacious snowboard-party epic. The second, Turbo by Level 1 Productions, was shot mostly out West but features some street riding in Cleveland. Screening begins at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Antrim Park.

For more outdoor adventures and to hear about John Ross' one painful experience in a snowboard competition, click to The Riot Act blog at

Rail Jam

4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8

Antrim Park, North Side

For more outdoor adventures and to hear about John Ross' one painful experience in a snowboard competition, click to The Riot Act blog at