Winter…. a thing most wakeboarders experience on an annual basis, at least those who don't live in Florida. We sit inside, reading the mags, watching videos, and wishing for the warm days of summer to return. Some of us are lucky enough to live near the mountains or by a ski hill, like we have in the Midwest.
When you hear the words Kansas City, barbeque and tornados quickly come to mind. You have to go pretty far down the list to get to snowboarding and wakeboarding. Enter KC Watersports Cable Park, Just Ride Sports, Snow Creek Ski Resort, and Scion and, suddenly the picture changes. The result is the second annual Scion Open snowboard comp.
Last years inaugural event was a huge hit. Snowboarders from all over the region came to the terrain park to ride and compete in the biggest event in the resorts 20 year history. For year two, Scion and event promoter Department Zero wanted to add something a little more unusual, a wakeboarding rail jam in the snow. Fritz Heffinger of Department Zero contacted Mike Olson of KC Watersports and Ryan Didier, of Just Ride Sports, the local Nautique Dealer, about putting on a show. “My first reaction to Fritz’s idea was, ‘No.’ I thought about it again, talked to Ryan, and told Fritz ‘Hell no’ ”, said Olson. “The thought of making pools in the 15 degree weather just did not seem right. Then it hit me, dig the pools in the snow. No plywood, no hay bales, just snow.”
Enter the two guys that can build anything, Snowcreek’s wizard of snow, Shawn Corkins, and Ryan Didier, the most positive, energetic guy you will ever meet. Shawn fired up the snow cat and Ryan fired up the shovel and two hours later a unique site was born. Nothing fancy by today’s rail jam standards, just clean and simple….and capable of being set on fire.
Phone calls were made to three riders; Carter Collins of KC Watersports, Corey Zee from Rogers Arkansas, and Ben Bazis of Omaha, Nebraska. Each of them were stoked to be a part of something so unusual.
Kansas is a funny place when it comes to weather. For ten consecutive days prior to the event, the mercury never moved above 20 degrees. Yet on the day of the event, the sun popped out and by show time, the temps were in the mid ‘50’s. The air was warm, but pool temps still hung in the mid ‘30’s.
Crowds gathered for the afternoon show. The riders dusted off the rust and hit the rails. Collins drew the biggest reaction from the crowd, being the first to take a header in to the pool. After taking the plunge, Collins hopped back in and dialed it up for the crowd.
The air cooled quickly as the sun went down. By the time of the evening show, the surface of the landing pool had formed a thin layer of ice. Snowboarders gathered on the hill above the pools and they watched as Shawn lit his masterpiece, the rail of fire. The flames added little to the level of danger, but more to the unique atmosphere surrounding this event. Collins, Bazis and Zee took turns, pushing each other like it was the middle of summer and rode until their feet were purple.
The Scion Open Rail Jam was a reminder to all of us who wear shoes in the winter, that summer will come again.
A special thanks to John Stoltz of Scion, Eric Staton of Just Ride, Brad Arnold of Golden, Jon Dunn of Incline Productions, Trevor Hawkins of Butterfilm Productions and all the others whose hard work made this event a success.