By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer
On the last day of October, there is no snow on the ground yet. But that is about to change, at least for one day.
DurHAM Rail Jam on Friday, Nov. 7, is bringing winter to Durham early this year. Main Street will be turned into a skiing and snowboarding competition. Ramps and rails will be set up on the Fish Bowl with leftover snow shavings from the Whittemore Center covering the ground.
There will also be a disc jockey and, according to the event’s Facebook page, “lots of swag” given out during and after the competition. Prizes have not been announced but could include free skis, snowboards or winter gear for first, second and third place finishers.
Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. and the start time is set for 7 p.m. The cost to compete is $15 and spectating is free. Raffles will also take place throughout the event, giving away prizes geared toward skiers and snowboarders. Half of all proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and a program run by Rye Airfield called Get On Board.
Rye Airfield is a skate and bike park located in Rye, New Hampshire, that runs this program in order to introduce kids of all ages to skateboarding.
According to the park’s website, Get On Board has effectively taught “thousands of participants” safe skateboarding skills in “a matter of minutes.”
Santos Lara, a senior at UNH, organized the event with his group of friends in “Rec Services Program Design,” a recreation management and policy (RMP) course taught by professor Ann Morgan. Majoring in RMP, Lara said this event has been a long time coming.
“I’ve definitely thought about an event like this before,” Lara said. “This class was just a gateway to do so. We wanted to get skiers and snowboarders in the area engaged and excited about the upcoming season. We wanted to get everybody together.”
Lara’s group mates are all avid skiers and snowboarders and include sophomore Ryan Janczy, junior Jared Gordon, senior Kendall Addison and sophomore Camden Varley-Harris. The group used their collective passion to pull together and make this event happen. Addison said the group planned the event to spread their love for the sport.
“We came up with the idea because we all have an interest in promoting ski and board culture on campus,” Addison said. “The main goal of the event is to provide a healthy competitive environment for athletes that’s safe.”
In order to bring a Rail Jam experience to the Fish Bowl, the group needs to secure some snow. More specifically, it plans on collecting “easily a couple hundred pounds” of snow from ice shavings from the Whittemore’s Zamboni. The group will store its snow in tarps until the day of the event, when it will be dumped onto takeoff and landing spots throughout the course.
The event has been gaining attention around campus as Nov. 7 approaches. Lara said he has high hopes for DurHAM Rail Jam and for the event’s future going forward.
“The response has been pretty positive on our Facebook page,” Lara said. “We are shooting to have 50-75 athletes in total, including skiers and snowboarders. We’re trying to make it an annual event.”