Winter athletes threw down in Motown
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 08:10
Though it was rain falling from the sky Friday night, at least fifteen thousand pounds of snow sat in the middle of High Street as the Sixth Annual Motown Throwdown set off the season in style.
Pathfinder manager Andrew Walker has been the event coordinator for the Motown Throwdown since its birth six years ago and recalls the event’s modest beginnings.
"The first year it was basically a group of guys and girls that were passionate about snowboarding that got together, got some snow from the ice rink, built some scaffolding, got a DJ and had some fun," Walker said. "It started pretty small, but we’ve tried to work it up to being something big."
Riders from New York to North Carolina traveled to Morgantown to showcase their skills in the invite-only rail jam competition presented by Morgantown outdoor store Pathfinder. The jam consisted of a both a skiing and snowboarding competition for the chance of cash prizes and gear.
"These are people that snowboard a lot every single year; they are riding 80 days a year," Walker said. "That’s why we do invite only."
The event consisted of 20 snowboarders and 10 skiers who competed hour-long heats in which contestants were judged by a panel on their overall performance.
Winning first place in the snowboarding competition was Josh Zerke, who took home $800 cash. First in place, Justin Petricko took the skiing competition and a cash prize of $400.
The dreary weather wasn’t enough to keep the fans and curious onlookers away as the crowd grew to a size comparable to that of a Sunnyside riot. Thankfully this was a city-sanctioned event.
"It was just fun to watch. I don’t really know a lot about snowboarding, but it was cool as a person who can’t do that," said television journalism senior Caitlin Fitzgerald. "This past week has been unseasonably warm, and it was cool that tonight it was cooler and they had the snow out there, it just kind of got you ready for the change of seasons."
During the competition, DJ Zimmie worked the crowd with his party-rock sounds while a number of companies and industry sponsors handed out freebies while promoting and demonstrating this season’s latest gear.
The logistics behind the event itself are a challenge comparable to the acrobatics of the competitors. From set up to tear down, it took the combined effort of Pathfinder, Seven Springs Mountain Resort and the Morgantown Conventions and Visitors Bureau, as well as multiple city departments, to build the slope.
Scaffolding and rails started going up as thousands of pounds of snow and ice were brought in to create the stage for riders to show off their freestyle skills.
The entire process, including set up, the jam and cleanup, ran from 9 a.m. to 10:15 p.m. – clearing the streets a whole 45 minutes ahead of schedule.
By Sunday morning, evidence of the mountain of snow could not be found, but it could be said the downtown scene could feel the effects of the jam for a while to come.
"We do the event to more so to try and showcase skiing and snowboarding and to kind of drive business to all businesses downtown," Walker said.
"The idea is to try and broaden everybody’s constituency base ... not just from Morgantown but from other areas that have never been to Morgantown before to showcase not just our snowboarding event but what everyone else in the area does."