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The appeal of the urban rail jam can lose its charm once resorts start firing up their lifts for the season, but when the urban locale is San Francisco and it’s a Downtown Throwdown, it’s worth skipping the white ribbon of death to check it out. Much like Seattle, announcers Jesse Burtner and Preston Strout spent October 27th, explaining inside terms such as “nollies” to the onlookers and bums, but unlike Seattle, it was Nial Romanek who rode off with the win.

In addition to being in the Bay area where pretty much anything goes, the fact that it was Halloween weekend prompted most of the riders to don costumes. Dylan Alito was some sort of crazy clown and Ted Borland dressed as a slice of pizza. Almost every one else went as a snowboarder, except for Sean Black, who wore shorts. But since it was a snowboard event, not a fashion show, I suppose you want to hear about the actual boarding.

Pizza enthusiast Ted “Bundy” Borland.

The course consisted of a donkey dick down bar, a kinked box and a quarter pipe. Despite the 75-degree heat, the riders began attacking it ferociously and didn’t stop until Burtner told them they had to, some three hours later.

The day was a constant steam of hammers, but some highlights amongst the mayhem included Brandon Hobush’s switch back 270, back 270 and hard way front 270 in rapid succession. Johnny Brady lost his hat about 15 times, but finally rode away clean from a crippler. (This accomplishment earned him the Bode Merrill Baker’s dozen award — 13 cosmo shots at the bar later.)Ted Borland’s pizza suit made moves like a hard way 5-0 front 180 look even better, and Andrew Brewer nearly lost a finger when someone rode over it (literally), but still managed some serious presses and 270s.

Nial. All smiles.

Really, it could have been anyone, but when it came down to first, Burtner put it best, “This guy landed more tricks, and the hardest tricks in a rail jam, ever.” That guy was Nial Romanek, of course. As it turns out he does have much more in his bag than just nose presses. Brendan Gerard earned the best trick award for his proper utilization of the pole jam to rail (although Stefan Krumm’s tail grab off the course to pavement was probably in contention, as well as about 5 other dudes who pulled creative and technical maneuvers.)

For me personally though, the highlight of the day came long before the contest even started, when he wisest man in snowboarding, Robbie Sell, taught me the secret to never missing a high five: look at the person’s elbow. I totally used this new knowledge to congratulate Nial, who simply replied, “Didn’t see that coming.” (He was talking about the win, not the high five.)

These guys.

1. Nial Romanek
2. Brandon Hobush
3. Dylan Thompson
4. Ted Borland
5. Andrew Brewer

Monster Moment: Brendan Gerard

Bode Merrill’s “Reach for the Stars Baker’s Dozen” award: Johnny Brady

San Francisco is an accepting city filled with diversity and rich cultural heritage, or to put it more bluntly, a total freak show. But the local color was only slightly weirder than a bunch of trucked in crushed ice and snow bros that made up the first-ever SF Downtown Throwdown event at the Civic Center on October 29th, 2011. As with any inner city rail jam on a 70-plus degree day during Halloween weekend, there were acrobatic maneuvers, ambiguous costumes and beers cleverly disguised by sponsor stickers. If all that wasn’t random (or normal) enough, even Thrasher editor Jake Phelps rolled by to scope the action.

A cultural display of some sort is apparently now a fixture at Snowboy events. Can’t be mad at that.

For the Yobeat crew, a snowboard event in San Fran mostly seemed like a great opportunity to road trip down, do some drinking, skateboarding and touristing, while simultaneously writing things off our taxes. It also helps that Yobeat is now a media powerhouse, so we dragged along the Intern and even flew Pat in from Utah to make the video extra spiffy (watch it here!) Neither intern nor Pat had ever been to Rice-a-Roni town before, and you’ll be happy to know, they made the most of it. On night one, Pat managed to kill his phone battery with Instagram and get completely lost, winding up sleeping on some strangers’ couch. This morning, Intern showed up with his face painted like a pirate, which means he must have had a good night, too.

I took a photo of snowboarding. This is it. Dylan Alito, Juggalo.

But enough about us. You’re probably reading this to find out what happened at the contest. Luckily, I assigned Josh Parker to pay attention and take notes and here are some of trick the highlights, in convenient bullet point form:

Ryan Paul
Boardslide front flip pole jam
Suitcase method to front board gap – dfd
Front board to back rodeo pole jam
Switch back 270 gap – dfd
Crippler wall ride
Back 360 onto downrail

Spencer Schubert
Front 270 to flat off dfd

Dylan Thompson
Pole jam front flip
Cab 270 gap – dfd
270s – downrail

Andrew Brewer
gap 270s front and back – dfd
Fakie ollie switch front board gap – dfd
Gap front 270 – dfd to handplant
Switch back lip

Dylan Alito
Cab 270 – downrail
Back 270 over front off dfd
Front 270 – downrail
Back 270 – downrail
Switch back 270 to regs – downrail

Johnny Brady
Hard way back 180 on cab 360 out – downrail

Nick Visconti
Back 180 on switch back 180 off – downrail
Pole jam backflip to hand plant on wall
hardway front 180 switch 5050 back 360 out – downrail

Expect TOTAL COVERAGE. Pat Fenelon and Mike Morgan, getting the shot.

As soon as Dylan Alito appeared dressed as a juggalo, complete with plastic hatchet he actually used as a prop during tricks, it was pretty obvious he would be a stand out. But it was actually the fact that he landed approximately 10,000 maneuvers over the course of two hours made that him a pretty obvious winner. The rest of the places weren’t so clear cut, as there was no shortage of “killing it” going on. Ryan Paul (4th) may very well be clinically insane with moves such as boardslide frontflips, even though Brandon Hobush (5th) was the one donning a Alcatraz psych ward shirt. Nikki Fresh got some redemption from his 6th place finish in Seattle, coming in second.

“I just feel weird riding with bare hands,” Ryan Paul.

In a day with no shortage of randomness and freaks, perhaps the strangest part of the San Francisco Downtown Throwdown was even though it was hot as hell just standing there, and the riders were racing to get in as many laps as possible, more than 50 percent of them wore mittens the whole time. Guess Jerm was right, for once — mittens are in, gloves are out.

Snowboy Productions is not afraid of child labor laws.

Thanks to Krush and Snowboy Productions for an always-fun event, SFO for letting us hang out, and all the other event sponsors that made it possible.


1. Dylan Alito
2. Nick Visconti
3. Dylan Thompson
4. Ryan Paul
5. Brandon Hobush

Zumiez Destroyer Award: Andrew Brewer
Crab Grab Style Award: Chris Brewster

Now click through the whole Jared Souney-created gallery and see how much awesome stuff you missed.

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This may come as a shock, but on October 9, 2010 the Downtown Throwdown in Seattle, WA, got rained on. Not only did it rain, but over the five or so hours of action in Occidental Park, it went from a light northwest-style drizzle, to pounding east coast-style down pour and back again, a couple times. Competitors stripped off their soaked sweatshirts when they got too heavy, and the crowd huddled in plastic bags, but seeing at it was pretty much an a fall day in Washington, no one really let a little inclement weather get in the way of a good time.

Personally, I came prepared with stylish rain boots purchased at K-mart on the drive up to Seattle. You may think this is an odd fact to share, but not only did rubber boots keep my feet dry and make the day that much more pleasant, but the only single thing I heard about more was Johnny Lazz’s back 3 5-0 front 180 out, stomped at least twice in one of the days final 20-minute jam sessions.

Between tricks like those, and the blood on his face from an earlier fall, Lazz was a shoo in for the Zumiez Destroyer award, which came with not only $1000, but the contents of the Destroyer box, which turned out to be a angle grinder and a wad of cash. When asked what he planned to do with his new found power tool collection, Lazz responding, “I’m probably gonna grind up some onions, tomatoes and cilantro and make some dank salsa.” He then let me know he was joking.

The Destroyer award was just a bonus though, and there were five more awards for superb shredding handed out. The field of judges, including Sean Genovese, Zac Marben and Pat Milbery were not faced with an easy task, doling out the $8000 purse, but being pros, they managed to figure it out, and $3000 for top honors will soon be deposited into the bank account of Ryan Paul.

RP has had quite a run from being 86’d from High Cascade to taking the snowboard world by storm, all in the span of a year, but seeing him ride in person, it all makes sense. The word “loose” doesn’t even describe it, and tricks such as a Front blunt 360 blunt to reg on the down box and a Switch 270 on down rail manage to look even more impressive than they sound.

“I had a lot of fun,” Ryan said “I didn’t know I would win – I didn’t even know if I would place. I get so nervous when they’re announcing the awards — and when it comes down to last moment they call your name, it’s amazing.”

The judges also recognized the consistency of the field’s largest competitor Ted Borland with fifth, Jake Kyzuk’s proper tricks and flawless style with fourth, Forrest Bailey’s rail mastery with 3rd and Scott Stevens general radicalness with 2nd. Despite having a broken arm, Scott definitely pleased the crowd with literal front handsprings over the barrel pile and of course, way better rail style than you could ever dream of.

The 5th Downtown Throwdown certainly did not disappoint, thanks to an always unique course from Snow Boy Productions, the vocal stylings of Jesse Burtner and tasty snacks from Cobra Dogs. Add in some amazing rail riding, and the rain didn’t even seen that bad. But of course, after the I.O.U.’s had been awarded and the final products from sponsors such as Lib Tech, Vans, and more, and the crowd and the riders were starting to dissipate, of course, the sun finally decided to come out.

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Between YoBeat, some print stuff, and the newly launched Snowboarder.com, I am feeling the pressure to come up with a lot of content right about now, especially since I want to keep alliancewakeskate.com going strong. But you know, it doesn’t say Extreme Journalist on my business card for nothing, so here’s the latest.

As I mentioned Snowboarder.com finally launched and I had one feature up there. It was originally going to be for YoBeat but Nick always gets screwed by people with budgets. Anyway, Nate helped me out a ton on this one, about the shipping process. Looks like I will be doing more regular stuff for that site as time goes on, so I guess I better come up with some more ideas.

Last weekend I headed up to Seattle for the Downtown Throwdown. I’m just gonna go ahead and say it, YoBeat crushed the contest coverage. First posted, best photos and a damn funny write up by Nick. I made Jared come up and shoot and he destroyed it as always. Of course I am the jerk who was working for someone else, because, well, I don’t like working for free. I made a little video for EXPN, which you can check out here. Another great chapter in the saga that is my involvement with ESPN.

This weekend I’m going back to Seattle for the LG Action Sports Championships. As if wake and snow weren’t enough, I guess I’ll write about BMX and Skate too. But it should be a fun weekend, and at least the event is inside so I won’t be cold.

Finally, here’s a picture of a neat church sign in Seattle for no reason other than I have it.