Nick Yomey rides the rail as students look on at the Bell Tower Rail Jam, organized by the Snowboarding Club, on Feb. 13. | Allan Barnes TTN
On Feb. 13, the Bell Tower was flooded with seven tons of snow.
The central location on Main Campus became a snowboarding terrain park for the day, equipped with blaring electronic music as snowboarders and skiers performed tricks on various equipment.
The Bell Tower Rail Jam, an event the Snowboarding Club tries to host yearly, invites skiers and snowboarders to compete in a “rail jam” – a competition in which contestants attempt tricks along the rails and boxes provided by Seven Springs Mountain Resort, the largest in the state for skiing. This year was the fourth time the club has hosted the event.
From the first round of the contest, a smaller group is selected to compete for gift card prizes in the categories of “best trick” and “most impressive fall,” separated by the apparatus used to compete.
Snowboarding Club members said they hope that such a public display will bring awareness to the club and encourage more members to participate in its other trips and events.
“A lot of times, it’s hard to raise awareness for such an outdoors club in the middle of the city, so this helps us get our name out there,” said Shawn Wilson, junior business major and public relations and events chair for the club.
Increased participation is not the only reason the club hosts the rail jam.
“It’s so much fun to shut down the middle of campus and build a terrain park,” said Veronica Miller, vice president of the club and senior public relations major.
To gather enough snow to allow smooth riding, club members rented a U-Haul truck the night before the event and drove to ice rinks in the city. Seven Springs supplied the equipment and members assembled the park overnight.
Riders dropped in from an 8-foot scaffold down a ramp and were able to choose whether to attempt tricks on the rail or the box.
More than 25 riders competed and a crowd of students willing to brave the wind and cold gathered to watch. The event even drew riders and spectators from outside of Temple.
“I felt like people really liked it,” said TJ Troope, a competitor and junior business administration major at Delaware County Community College.
Troope added that he appreciated not having to drive two hours to a mountain to snowboard.
Taylor Hughes came to watch her friends, who are students at Temple, even though she is not a Temple student.
“I think it went really well,” Hughes said. “They [looked] like they [were] having fun.”
To her, the best part of the competition was the diversity of equipment available.
“I really like how they have the rail and the box,” Hughes said.
Once the competition ended, there was an open ride period where competitors were free to use the equipment.
The jam was sponsored by major companies, like Monster Energy Drink and Buckman’s Ski Shop, as well as The Creperie. The sponsorships helped to allow students to enter the competition for free.
Wilson said he thought of the idea for the event after witnessing a similar snowboarding competition held in a vacant lot.
“It’s always a lot of fun to see people who … just have no idea what’s going on, and they’re just so confused, and other people, they’re so stoked on it,” Wilson said.
Vince Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org