Words: T Bird
Photos: Joel Fraser
Today, I saw a sign in a restaurant that said "Thank you for come in our restaurant." If one were to see these words at an eating establishment in the States, they would more than likely gather their belongings and leave very quickly, but I just chuckled, because, well, I'm in Japan and pretty much every American phrase, idiom, or general sentence is lost in translation, as was the case in this instance...I hope.
Japan is one of my favorite countries. The food is amazing, the cities are clean and offer exceptional public transportation, the people are genuine and courteous, and the Japanese are scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs fanatical about snowboarding. It's almost enough to make you bummed on being a snowboarder in the U.S., if we didn't have such incredible mountains.
Needless to say, when Burton decided to put on their Rail Days event in the Roppongi district of Tokyo, it was, in my opinion, a great pre-season decision.
The setup, designed by Chris "Gunny" Gunnarson and his crew of SPT pushers, is gargantuan. Now I'm not simply sensationalizing for ulterior editorial motives. These are the most behemoth features I've ever seen in a rail jam. The photos might do it justice, but as proven time and again, they probably won't.
The course consists of a nipple-high concrete ledge on looker's left with a kinked creeper, a twenty-odd foot down round bar dead center, and a square down-flat-down on looker's right that should and probably did scare the shit out of the contestants the first time they locked on to it. Framing the course on the far looker's right and left are true urban gaps. No jumps, just straight diving board takeoffs. On the left is a street light to bonk, and on the right, a post office-style mailbox in the landing. Right now I could make an incredibly cheesy pun about the riders "sending it" on the mailbox, but I won't...because I kinda just did.
The field was stacked. Cameron Pierce, Scott Stevens, Dylan Alito, Stevie Bell, Zak Hale, Ethan Deiss, Marc Swoboda, Wojtek Pawlusiak, Alex Andrews, Mike Casanova, Zac Marben, Jamie Nicholls and more flew across the Pacific in an attempt to pocket the $15,000 first place purse. Getting through Customs was going to be a itch for one of these dudes, that's for sure.
The contest started with a 45 minute jam and the field of 16 was then cut to 8 and those riders battled it out in a head-to-head, best of three run series. It was:
Dylan Alito vs. Ethan Morgan
Stevie Bell vs. Ethan Deiss
Shoma Takao vs. Scotty Stevens
Marc Swoboda vs. Jamie Nicholls
The final heats were Shomo Takao vs. Ethan Deiss to determine third and fourth place and Dylan Alito vs. Jamie Nicholls for second and first. Ethan came out in third, Alito took second, and the young Brit Jamie Nicholls took the win, and $15,000 cash.
Burton Rail Days ended up being one of the best rail jams I have ever witnessed, and-much like the toilets in Japan that spray water into your most private of areas after a big dumpo-it was refreshing. Until next time, I love you Tokyo, and I hope to sing horrible, out-of-tune music in a small room again with you soon.
Words: T Bird
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