Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter BellingJAM 2009


BELLINGHAM - About 300 onlookers gathered in The Copper Hog's parking lot on Sunday evening, Feb. 15 to watch as skiers and snowboarders whizzed down a 12-foot ramp to ride the rails below in the first BellingJam.

The free event - a rail competition which also featured snowboard and ski art, screen printing demonstrations, film clips and a performance by Seattle hip-hop duo Common Market - was the brainchild of Innate Snow & Skate owners Dylan Warnberg and Corey Warren and Copper Hog owner Aaron Matson.

"We're hoping to bring together all ages and just enlighten and uplift individuals through the use of creative arts, music and recreational activity," Warnberg said of the event.


Jam organizers used truckloads of shaved ice from the Sportsplex ice rink in Bellingham to transform the parking lot into a mountain terrain park, complete with a ramp and two rails. The Copper Hog is at the corner of North State Street and East Magnolia Street in downtown.

"It's neat, because you're taking something out of context and putting it in a new venue, which always gives something new appeal," Warren said. "We just like to make people think, take people by surprise, provide entertainment - just kind of show people something they maybe haven't seen before."

About 30 skiers and snowboarders performed tricks on the rails, while judges looked on, rating the competitors on individuality, style and technicality. The participants that scored the highest received cash prizes, which came from an entry fee for contestants.

"I'm just going to try to make it to the end of the rails," said 21-year-old snowboarder Cameron Hamilton of Bellingham before he competed in the event. "There's more pressure on you to try to throw down and please the crowds."

Many high school and college students came to the jam, as well as passers-by lured to the spot by the thumping music.

"We were downtown and heard the concert and saw the posters and decided to come," said Ferndale High School sophomore Crystal Tapia, 16.

BellingJam organizers were happy with the number of people who showed up.

"I'm pretty surprised at the turnout," said Chach Lawley, 27, who helped construct the ramp for the event. "A lot of people heard about it, so it's more of a word of mouth thing."

To Warren and Warnberg, the jam was more about community togetherness than about making a profit. Initially, they purchased 600 tickets to sell at $10 a piece for admission into the event, but later changed their minds given the younger crowd they expected to attend.

"I thought about how hard it was for me as a youth to come up with 10 bucks," Warnberg said. "You line up 100 kids and ask them all for 10 bucks and 10 will show up, but you ask those same 100 kids to come to an event that's free and you'll get 99 of them to come."

Warren and Warnberg hope to organize future BellingJams, including one in the summertime featuring a skateboard competition.

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