With the Ontario International Airport fading away in the rearview mirror, it’s hard to imagine skiing lies a mere 45 minutes away. The exterior temperature reads 65 degrees. Palm trees line the highway. Red ceramic roofing adorns the homes that whiz by in a blur. And in the distance, rolling green hills stretch as far as the eye can see.
Yet, towering above those foothills are mountains. And somewhere in those mountains there is snow. And where there is snow, you’ll find Bear Mountain Resort—home to War of Rails (WOR).
Now in its fourth year, War of Rails has established itself as one of the biggest, baddest rail jams our sport has to offer. The brainchild of former Level 1 star Craig Coker, the contest draws many of skiing’s biggest names with the lure of a hefty cash purse ($15,000 for first, $30,000 overall) and a chance to throw down on one of the burliest rail jam setups in the world. Year after year, we’ve arrived at the venue with wide eyes, and mouths agape. Coker has managed to outdo himself time and again—building bigger and better courses—and today, we were pleased to discover he’d pulled it off once again.
A veteran competitor at WOR, Utah’s John Kutcher explained this year’s setup as follows: “Last year, we thought the course was crazy. Then we showed up this year—and you can sort of see last year’s setup hidden inside this year’s—but it’s a whole new beast… It’s like the beast ate last year’s setup, then ate a bunch of new rails, and puked it all out into one big awesome pile.”
Other competitors summed it up more briefly; LJ Strenio exclaimed, “O’Doyle rules!” Another noted, “I normally ride to hip-hop in the park, but for this comp, I made a heavy metal playlist.”
2013 War of Rails: A first look at the insane rail jam setup
Competition kicked off today with two stacked qualifying heats, forty-five minutes of jam time allotted to each. Eight skiers advanced from each heat, plus the next four highest scores overall. Those 20 athletes advance to Saturday’s semifinal rounds, where they’ll square off against 20 pre-qualified pros. In addition to earning a spot in Saturday’s showdown, Friday’s top 20 squared off for an afternoon battle—a handful of prizes were on the line. At the end of the day, Brendan Trieb took third, Sandy Boville finished 2nd and Shay Lee walked away victorious, his prize pack including a free session at Windells Camp this summer—not half bad for a day’s work.
Tomorrow’s format is as follows: Two heats (20 skiers each) will battle for a spot in the superfinal. Fifteen athletes in total will advance to said final—a 30-minute jam session. Each of the top 15 will receive payout, and as aforementioned, the champion walks away with $15,000.
Tomorrow’s competition will be broadcast in real time via freeskier.com/live. We anticipate one heck of a display, so be sure and tune in. For now, we’re off to enjoy all that Big Bear has to offer in the way of nightlife…