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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rail Jam to promote winter sports

    Ryan Velasco, president of the University of Arizona Elevation Ski and Snowboard club, stands in front of the Cricket Campus Railjam Tour tour bus.
    Ryan Velasco, president of the University of Arizona Elevation Ski and Snowboard club, stands in front of the Cricket Campus Railjam Tour tour bus.

    Twenty tons of snow will turn the UA Mall into a winter wonderland Thursday as skiers and snowboarders put on a demonstration rarely seen in the southern Sonoran Desert.

    Starting at noon, the UA Elevation Ski and Snowboard Club and the Cricket Wireless Campus Rail Jam Tour will be holding a snowboarding competition in an attempt to peak students’ interest in winter sports.

    Ice blocks, brought to the UA in semi-trucks, will be ground up to create the snowy landscape. Ryan Velasco, Elevation club co-president and architecture senior, said.

    “”It’s a really cool event just to have here,”” Velasco said.

    Rail Jam Tour’s master of ceremonies, Grady Skelton, said the UA is the first of 10 stops of the 2009 tour. Over the next three months the tour will stop at other college campuses such as Arizona State University and Colorado State University, with the final being held May 30 in Portland, Ore.

    He said tour organizers tried to handpick schools they thought would appreciate the event and have the most fun.

    “”When we come to places like Arizona and Southern California, it can be greater of an impact and better of a show because more kids are stoked to see (a) random 20 tons of snow on their school campus,”” Skelton said.

    The tour showcases pro-am snowboarders and hosts a competition between students at each of the campuses it visits.

    Skelton said the first through third place winners at the UA get a chance to compete in the finals for a chance to win $3,000.

    “”They’re gonna see snowboarding at its finest,”” Skelton said. “”They’ll see a lot of competition, a lot of fun. Should be a really high energy, action packed event.””

    Elevation club co-president and economics senior Drew McKendry said he was thinking about competing, in an effort to represent the club’s 250 members, some of which also are joining the competition.

    Skelton said the tour makes contact with snowboard clubs at the schools it visits and lets the clubs take control of the event.

    “”(Club members) get to basically have the satisfaction of setting up one of the biggest events their school is probably going to see all year and we get to help,”” Skelton said. “”It’s a great way to build excitement and interest in the ski and snowboard clubs.””

    McKendry said that this event would allow students to focus on something besides budget cuts and test scores for at least a little while.

    “”We’re just trying to put on something fun for people,”” McKendry said. “”There’s a lot of negative things going on with the university, this will be great for people to forget about that, have a chance to come out and laugh a little bit. There’s going to be some wipe outs.””

    The event won’t just promote the Elevation Ski and Snowboard Club, Skelton said. The Rail Jam Tour’s goal is to promote the entire collegiate snowboard scene.

    The sport of snowboarding has only a handful of national competitions at the college level, which is nearly insignificant when compared to other sports, Skelton said.

    “”This is why we’re all doing this, to grow the sport of snowboarding, which we all love,”” Skelton said.

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