Professional rail Jam to headline Dunsmuir’s ‘Winter Fest’

Richard DuPertuis
Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce events committee members Sam Lanier and Ryan Avila stand before the flowchart they constructed while organizing a winter festival in Dunsmuir City Park for Dec. 7 and 8. The resulting event, called the 2012 Dunsmuir Winterfest, revolves around a professional rail jam, where skiers and snowboards jump onto either an 12-foot narrow box or a like measure of railroad rail, and perform acrobatic tricks are they slide its length. There will also be live music, a raffle, food for sale, and two films.

In Dunsmuir City Park early next month, competitors will slide down a ramp while standing, launch into the air, and come down riding their skis or snowboards astride a length of genuine railroad rail, upon which they will perform gravity-defying tricks for an appreciative audience.

That's how Chamber of Commerce President David Clarno envisions the Dunsmuir Chamber's 2012 rail jam, one of several activities scheduled during a two-day Winterfest, Dec. 7 and 8. The rail jam sign-up begins at 2 p.m. Dec. 8, with competitions commencing at 3 p.m.

Admission is free.

Also featured will be live music, a raffle, a pancake breakfast, and two movies.

Clarno emphasizes this will be a professional event. “There are people up here who have coached for the Olympics,” he said about local talent Thursday. “In the north state, there are people who have judged for up to World Cup level.”

Clarno said the ramp will be about 10 feet wide and will give a contestant a choice of trying to ride a box if the rail looks too daunting. “It's easier to ride the box, because there is less of a need for balance,” he said. The eight-inch wide box will stand about 10 inches off the ground, and the rail will be about 12 feet long. Clarno said the two options will be aligned parallel in front of the ramp about eight feet apart.

“They usually land sideways,” he said of the shredders. “As they're sliding, they do tricks. The more expert they are, the fancier the tricks.” He said those include mid-air twists and sometimes flips.

Punctuating the action will be an electronic music manager known as DJ Zack Schneeman. That last name is German for snowman.

Clarno said falling on a length of railroad rail could easily break bones. “People can get hurt, but they're usually well practiced, so it doesn't happen very often,” he said.

He termed the event “a community effort,” coordinated by the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce Events Committee. Sponsors include the Mt. Shasta Ski Park, Surf Shack, FireWhat, the Dunsmuir Chamber, Bombs Away, and the Fifth Season. There will be vendor booths and food.

“The Chamber will provide food for sale,” said Clarno. “It will be simple, like burgers, chili dogs.” He said Dunsmuir Rotary Club will present its annual Pancakes with Santa breakfast Saturday morning from 8 to 11 a.m.

Practice and professional demos will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday. During this time live music will be provided by the live band Double Chief. The first day of Winterfest will end in the Community Building with a showing of the ski film “Choose Your Own Adventure,” featuring backcountry veteran Forrest Coots.

Wrapping up the event Saturday will be Warren Miller's extreme skiing and snowboarding movie, “Flow State.” No admission will be charged for either film.

Clarno said the idea of a free winter festival in Dunsmuir has evolved over the last couple of years, as suggestions bounced back and forth between members of the events committee and the city council. The plan eventually crystalized into a flowchart in the office of FireWhat. CEO Sam Lanier is chair of the Chamber of Commerce events committee.

“We wanted to promote Dunsmuir as a winter sports town,” Clarno said. “This time of year people are starving for playing on the snow. We saw the beginning of December as a great time for something like this, before the ski season.”

The idea is to bring people to town to experience our restaurants, motels and gift shops.

The Chamber is determined to hold the event regardless of the weather. “Ideally, we want the temperature to go down to about 28 degrees the night before,” Clarno said. “Mt. Shasta Ski Park is going to bring their snow-making machine.” Snow will be used to lubricate the ramp and the box, as well as make the surroundings look more wintry.

“If it snows we won't need the machine,” continued Clarno. “That happens sometimes this time of year.” He said if it’s too warm for the snow machine, “we'll actually go pick up snow and bring it in the backs of pickup trucks. If it rains, we'll still do it. We'll use carpets on the ramp and the box.”

Inquisitive spectators or hard-core shredders wishing more information about the 2012 Dunsmuir Winterfest can call the Chamber office at 235-2177.