Articles Tagged: tokyo

2012 Burton Rail Days Tokyo Presented by Mini

Featured //
2012 Burton Rail Days Tokyo Presented by Mini

Words: T-Bird Photos: Blotto

I remember the first rail jam that really stoked me out. It was in Buffalo, New York, hosted by Red Bull, and consisted of the best rail riders in the world at the time. I also remember the image of Scotty Arnold locked into a perfect front board on a down bar because it hung on my wall as a testament to how a front board should be done at that time. That event was revolutionary for me. I couldn’t believe what the riders were doing on some of the most progressive features the streets had ever seen. Looking back on it now, that contest was indeed incredible and the tricks done in it have definitely progressed exponentially in the past decade or so, but after watching the 2012 Burton Rail Days in Japan go down last night at Roppongi Hills in downtown Tokyo I now realize that in the realm of rail jams, everything has changed for the better.

Last night, thousands of people packed into Roppongi Hills Plaza in Tokyo to witness a spectacle of urban snowboarding that I have rarely seen related in a contest setting. Headed up by Chris Castaneda of Snow Park Technologies, the setup was gargantuan. Featuring three different drop-in points of entry, the eighteen invited riders had the option of a simple down bar on the far rider’s left, a down creeper just to the right of that, and a wooden rail closeout to flat (though many riders opted to start gapping from that to the down bar). Next to that was a picnic table angled upward and a hitching post log to the far rider’s right, and just to the left of the hitching post was a big wooden Burton pole with a flag on top that that the riders could bonk if they felt like getting some airtime. It really was insane seeing this massive feature plopped square in the middle of downtown Tokyo, but it spoke to the fact that gone are the days when a single barrel down bar would consist of a world class street venue.

The pouring rain didn’t slow down the competitors down one bit, nor did it stop the crowd from cramming in shoulder-to-shoulder. Eighteen of the world’s most talented freestylers flew from all over the world to try their hand on the course and hoping to win the $15,000 cash prize. The list included Jonah Owen, Dominik Wagner, Ludwig Lejkner, Ethan Deiss, Brandon Hobush, Yuma Abe, Benny Urban, Alex Tank, Neils Schack, Marc Swoboda, Forest Bailey, Jamie Nicholls, Zak Hale, Dylan Alito, Jesse Augustina, Wojtek Pawlusiak, Takahiro Ishida, and Mark Sollors and they battled it out in a forty-five minute jam to narrow the finals down to six riders.

The tricks that you now see in any given rail jam is incredible in the sense that a proper back lip would once win one of these contests but now it’s merely a warm-up trick, and at the Burton Rail Days, it got really tech really fast. With the legendary Jeremy Jones sitting atop the course in the judges’ booth, there was no denying that Burton not only stepped it up with the setup, but they also legitimized the judging even more. Regardless, a few riders took to the hitching post with Andrechts, tail taps, nose bonks and myriad flips while Jamie Nicholls tailtap revert 450d the Burton flag a few times. The picnic table setup saw the likes of Marc Swoboda going inverted off the end and Wojtek Pawlusiak buttering on and off. The star of the show however, was definitely the looker’s right rail setup. With multiple options, the riders went after it every way possible. Ludwig Lejkner’s back lips were ridiculous. Brandon Hobush went front three to fifty while Jamie Nicholls took a cue to step it up and did the same trick but switch. Local Tokyo ripper Yuma Abe was the first to drop down from the wooden closeout to the down bar and the crowd went apeshit. Jonah Owen–no stranger to landing flat– took it to the bottom of the closeout with a flurry of front threes. Ethan Deiss handled the creeper and half Cabbed on to the down bar to switch tailpress. Dominik Wagner and Benny Urban impressed me quite a bit as everything they do is very properly executed. Smooth, clean, and landed solidly. Keep an eye out for those two. Zak Hale rode super well also with a few nosepress back 180s and front blunts with heaps of style, and Dylan Alito couldn’t quite seem to put it together in the qualifiers to move on to the finals but he still put on a quite a show for the crowd.

When the forty-five minute qualifier was over, it was Jamie Nicholls, last year’s winner, who qualified in the top spot with Forest Bailey in second place (Editor’s Note: Forest’s last trick in qualifiers broke his snowboard so he borrowed Neils Schat’s stick and rode it in the finals). Rounding out the rest of the finals field was Brandon Hobush, Jonah Owen, Dominik Wagner, and Zak Hale. It was a good mix of Euros and Americans and when

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Japan Journals: Episode 4

Videos //
Japan Journals: Episode 4

In Episode 4 of Nick Hyne's "Japan Journals" they travel back to Tokyo and take in some Japanese culture. Then head to Hakuba for the Slope competition and check out some of the area’s terrain. This is number 4 of the 4 Japan Journals web episodes. Stay posted throughout the season to see what drags the world’s best snowboarders to this incredible part of the world.

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Burton Rail Days: Tokyo Recap

Event Photos //
Burton Rail Days: Tokyo Recap

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.

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