More than 110 skiers and snowboarders turned out for Wyoming Rail Yard’s “Rail Jam” event March 26 at the Happy Jack Recreation Area east of Laramie. First up was the big air competition, culminating with a thrilling backflip by skier Spencer Cole.
When he landed it, there was a “huge roar” from the crowd, co-organizer Dayton Hammel said. “So he immediately hit the rail below and absolutely laced it, and everybody went wild again. It was electric.”
The rail jam — essentially a friendly stoke-a-thon, Hammel said — was the second such event organized by Wyoming Rail Yard, a collective of skiers and snowboarders who want to demonstrate that terrain park enthusiasts are a viable recreational market worthy of investment.
“It’s a bunch of skiers and snowboarders getting together to have a good time — really to show how strong the community is and that it’s not well-served right now,” Hammel said.
Outside established ski areas, there are too few terrain parks — rails, jumps and boxes — to enjoy without spending a big chunk of change for a lift ticket. For now, Wyoming Rail Yard sets up its own rails and builds jumps for events like the rail jam, then disassembles the equipment at the end of the day. The group is gunning for a permanent rope-tow at Happy Jack and more permanent ski and snowboard terrain infrastructure.
Wyoming Rail Yard has applied for a $50,000 grant from the University of Wyoming’s John P. Ellbogen Entrepreneurship Competition. Such support would fuel the group’s effort far beyond Happy Jack. The group is working to organize similar efforts near Lander, Cody and all over the state where there’s accessible state or U.S. Forest Service lands suitable for such facilities, another Rail Yard co-founder Casimir “Caz” Norton said.
“We’re looking at doing a road trip, working with locals to see what might be possible in other parts of the state,” Norton said, adding that Wyoming Rail Yard has already earned support from both local and national sponsors.
CORRECTION: WyoFile has updated this story with the correct spelling of Casimir “Caz” Norton. —Ed