Mike Brewer stood with tips over the lip of Hoff Rail Garden’s plywood ramp as he formulated his drop in. The audience’s anticipation was fueled by Marlboro 27’s and ice-cold PBR’s held by Hestra mittens.
Brewer, an Evolution Freeride sponsored rider, signaled to the sea of impromptu photographers that he was ready to drop in. Planting his poles into the ground he skated in place, back and forth, gaining momentum. After one last push, Brewer sailed down the ramp, but rather than dropping in and hitting the rail, he veered his tips to the right, hit a jump and propelled into a backflip.
Most audience members watching from the top didn’t know whether he landed it or not, but judging by the cheers, no one seemed to care.
Though Brewer, a University of Vermont freshman, missed the first rail jam a week earlier, he was psyched to be a part of round two on Feb. 9.
“I had a lot of fun! The rails were sliding nicely and the music contributed to a good atmosphere. More people should come turn up next time! Thank you Castleton,” he said.
Brewer was just one of many throwing down at Evolution Freeride’s second Hoff Garden Rail Jam. After the success of the Jan. 20 rail jam, Evolution Freeride Manager Michael Boisvert knew the event has a potential to grow. He said building a relationship with Castleton students has been a process.
“No one has taken the time to connect with the local colleges, and no one has taken an interest in the kids,” Boisvert said.
Evolution Freeride is a ski and snowboard apparel shop in the basement of Basin Sports in Killington. It was first established in the mid ‘90s and has continued to acclimate its products and employees to the evolving trends of the free-skiing industry. When Boisvert was asked what he hoped for with future jams, he bashfully addressed the lack of female participants – and spectators. Upcoming “swag” incentives for the next ones might change that.
One success Boisvert gloated about was the enthusiasm of participants.
“Everyone received it very well, and wanted me to continue. The more students involved, the more fun,” he said.
Freshman Lawrence Hathaway attended both sessions and has yet to be disappointed by the event.
“I liked how everyone was throwing down on the rails and the free merch!” he said.
As far as the jam session, the only thing cooler than the array of Plank beanies and t-shirts, was the chill crowd of skiers, riders and friends.
“It was awesome to watch and have a good time hanging out with cool people,” said Colin O’Meara, while sporting his new beanie.
The rail jams are tentatively scheduled for every other Monday through the rest of the season. With growing interest, sponsor incentives and publicity, Evolution Freeride is likely going to be a well-known name among the Spartan community. Basin Sports has even extended 10 percent off to all Castleton students for their first choice mountain threads.
Max Rowe, a junior at Killington’s School of Resort Management and Evolution Freeride employee, said he is eager to branch out of Killington and be active in the Castleton freeskiing community.
“I liked that more people showed up this time. When kids come out and throw down, it gets more people out skiing and helps grow each session,” he said.