Thursday, May 13, 2021

Rail Jam turnout exceeds expectations

Just in time for the first snowfall of autumn, Plattsburgh State’s Ski and Snowboard club held its third annual Rail Jam at Memorial field Nov. 16.

Over a hundred PSUC students, including 20 contestants, withstood the frosty weather for the ski and snowboard competition, the biggest event of the year for the club.

Treasurer John Hush estimated a little over 50 percent of the club’s budget is devoted to the event.

Between T-Shirts, sweaters, raffle prizes handed out at the event, lights, tables and a U-Haul truck, the club’s budget is disbursed heavily.

The club mitigates costs with sponsors like Jay Peak Resorts, who provided the three rails used in the competition.

Each year the club rents a U-Haul truck and collects snow with shovels from hockey arenas left by zambonis in Plattsburgh, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and even Burlington, Vermont, before being shoveled back out onto Memorial Field for the event.

The club spent Monday through Friday of the week before the event, starting at 6 p.m. each night, collecting and unloading snow onto Memorial Field for this year’s Rail Jam.

Twenty participants showed off rail tricks on skis and snowboards before a panel of four judges, who whittled down the pool to 10 based on their performances.

Junior accounting and business administration major and three-time contestant Ryan Mullins won the competition by the end of the night.

Getting a chance to snowboard early, as well as the atmosphere the event brings every fall, was a big draw for Mullins that brought him back each year.

“It’s just good vibes; It’s so much fun,” he said. “It’s the highlight of my year. It’s an almost perfect showing of what a rail jam can be on campus.”

Club President Maria Tibold expected a turnout of 70 to 80 students. Instead, well over 100 PSUC students attended.

With a foot of snow falling overnight, the event had near-perfect conditions.

“We haven’t had snow the past three years,” she said. “Plus, the turnout was really great.”

Tibold hoped students with even minor interest in the event would come out and got just that.

Freshman communications major Joseph Gelosi attended Rail Jam after hearing about the event’s reputation and left with interest in joining the club.

“It’s cold, my feet are freezing, but it’s a real great time,” he said. “Seeing this makes me want to join the club.”

Freshman Jonathan Levine said he doesn’t know much about skiing and snowboarding and that Rail Jam was his first time seeing the sport in person. He left with some interest in picking up either skiis or a snowboard after watching the contestants.

Tibold looks forward to next year’s Rail Jam and improving upon it.

“[Rail Jam] is a great community event and really brings people together,” Tibold said.

The Ski and Snowboard club’s next event comes in the spring semester, when they will take a trip to a ski resort yet to be determined.

Email Fernando Alba atcp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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