The University of Maine Ski and Snowboard Club is hosting a Rail Jam event from 3 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 23. Ramps and rails will be set up across the Orono Brewing Company (OBC) property for contestants to showcase their freestyle talents. Entry is free to spectators and $10 for those who wish to compete.
The Ski and Snowboard Club is a group of winter sports enthusiasts who take weekend trips to Maine mountains, such as Sugarloaf and Sunday River. Recently, they went to Big Moose in Greenville for a beginner’s day. 15 to 20 students typically attend each trip. However, they have had upwards of 30 join in on the action.
Lauren Gurney, vice president of the club, played a major role in its progression throughout the last few years.
“Myself and Kyle Wogelius actually founded the ski club back in 2021,” said Gurney. “We created this club because UMaine lacked a community of skiers and snowboarders on campus, and we wanted to ensure that everyone had someone in the sport on campus, no matter what skill level of skiing or snowboarding they were!”
All proceeds from the event will go toward Maine Adaptive. The nonprofit organization offers athletic lessons to mentally or physically disabled children and adults looking to get active. Over 450 annual volunteers guide hundreds of participants through accessible and empowering programs.
The wintertime sports include Alpine/Nordic skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. In the summer, there are opportunities for cycling, golf, tennis, mountain biking and paddle boarding. Rock climbing is offered throughout both seasons.
Maine Adaptive’s devoted team is committed to helping individuals participate in recreation without barriers. One example of such efforts is their implementation of a sit-ski device. The seat is made from carbon fiber and mounted on a ski with suspension components.
“This year, we decided to raise money for Maine Adaptive to give back to the local Maine Community. We felt that the non-profit aligns heavily with our club in terms of getting people out there to enjoy the winter season through skiing and snowboarding,” Gurney said.
At the 2023 Rail Jam, there were approximately 50 competitors, some of whom traveled from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The coordinators hope for a similar number of participants and an attendance of about 200 people in this community-wide event. They anticipate the UMaine hockey crowd will spend time at OBC preceding a 7 p.m. game against Northeastern University.
A host will lead the tournament, which lasts an hour and a half. While everyone competes simultaneously, they are scored individually. Skiing is assessed in a section separate from snowboarding. Two or three judges will evaluate the informal technique of each contender and subsequently announce six winners.
The first-place skier will win a pair of brand-new skis and the snowboarder’s prize is to be determined. Second and third-place winners in both categories are given a pair of PIT VIPER sunglasses, a Ski the East prize package or other assorted merchandise.
Food and drinks are available for purchase at OBC. There will also be raffles and vendors present. Most of the equipment is courtesy of Sugarloaf and members of its ski club will be tabling to show support.
“I expect everyone who is going to the rail jam to bring the energy. This year’s rail jam is absolutely going to top last year’s and we’ve got a lot of prizes for everyone to win through the competition but also through giveaways and raffles,” said Gurney.