I Love the Smell of Fresh Cut Wood in the Morning: The SLUG Games Lumberjack Jam

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The SLUG Games Lumberjack Jam is by far one of my favorite contests to be a part of for a number of reasons, but mostly because I’m a patriot, and lumberjacks are about as American as apple pie. George Washington, Paul Bunyan and Clarke Griswold are all prime examples, and on Saturday, January 12, over 70 kids got their chance to don some flannel and lay some metal and p-tex into wood under perfect blue skies at Brighton Resort.

Set up at the top of the Majestic Lift, terrain park manager Jared Winkler and the Brighton park crew teamed up with SLUG and Team Thunder to create a venue perfect for an original, all wood, jam-format contest. This was SLUG and Brighton’s second Lumberjack Jam, so the course featured some timber from last year’s event, as well as a slew of new wood. Competitors had their choice of three lines: there was an up-log that fed you to a flat log, a roller next to a tree that set you up for a healthy lil’ jump with a pole halfway out the deck for bonk-tap-chop-spin combos and a handrail-style down log into a really long, arcing log that was a true test of board control and balance.

Both spectators and competitors were treated to free flapjacks courtesy of SLUG Magazine and an open-entry hatchet-throwing contest hosted by the boys from Celtek Gloves. Ryan Powers set the tone for the contest with a never-ending playlist of fun music, while Laura Hadar rocked the mic. All day she was calling out tricks, heckling the judges (Team Thunder, baby!) and photographers, providing entertaining commentary on the proper application of sunscreen in a Borat accent and taking her jacket off to let a few young girls duke it out for her steezy duds. SLUG couldn’t have asked for a better MC; she knows her shit inside and out, plus she’s an excellent role model for the younger kids.

After a mellow warm-up session and a ton of Red Bull and flapjacks, the 17- division was ready to shred. During the jam session quite a few egos were bruised (along with faces, hips, asses, backs, necks and knees) because the wood used to make the jibs was a bit softer than expected, and just about every competitor caught an edge and got served quicker than Robert Downey Jr. at an empty bar. I watched a group of sick young shredders adapt and conquer a setup that would have sent lesser riders right down into the lodge.

The open division was no different; kids were getting racked left and right as the 17- lumberjacks chopped the rails up quite a bit, leaving the open class to deal with wood rails that I thought couldn’t get much gnarlier. I don’t think that phased anyone though, because right off the bat kids started throwing hatchets like there was no tomorrow. The pole-chop jump saw a lot of action, with lumberjacks serving up hearty portions of bonk variations including shifty back 1 high five taps, method front three taps, f/s shifty back 3 and 5 taps, and all sorts of other wild style action. Ted Borland nose-pressed the long arcing log and Erik Van Assche did a cab 180 - 50-50 - back 3 on the down log. Other notable tricks thrown on the down log included hard way backside 180s and some perfect back-tails and back-tail combos thrown by the homie in camo pants and blue tall-t. A few skiers came out and did their own versions of boardslides and combos, gaining respect from everyone in attendance. While the judges had their hands full dodging snowballs and trying to score each rider, spectators, photographers and those filming were having a field day as the soggy logs claimed victim after victim. My personal favorite was when Colin Defnuts caught an edge getting on to the down log and fell onto the last third of it, breaking the whole thing in half (fingers crossed that that clip makes it onto Youtube). After making sure he was ok, the Brighton park crew and some other riders ripped the remaining support bar out of the ground and cleared the debris out of the new landing. Less than a minute after the rail was broken, riders were hitting the freshly modified log like nothing happened, proving that riders in Utah are some of the most adaptive in the country.

Unfortunately, the day came to an end far too soon, but Milo, Salty Peaks, Blindside, OGIO, Union, Broken Boardshop, Dank Squad, Celtek, Zotes Sunflower Seeds, Lenitech Snow & Skate, Rome SDS, Arbor, The Levitation Project and Spacecraft all contributed enough product to make sure that everybody walked away with some goodies. The first-place winners in each category walked away with cash, a backpack stuffed full of goods provided by our generous sponsors and a handcrafted trophy created by yours truly. Second and third place winners in each category received backpacks stuffed with gear and trophies. By the time you read this, everyone’s bruises will almost be healed, the winners will have blown the cash they won, the jibs from the contest will be stashed around Brighton for you to find and ride, and ear-to-ear smiles will materialize whenever someone mentions the SLUG Games.

SLUG Magazine would like to thank Red Bull Energy Drink, the Utah Winter Games, Milo, Salty Peaks, Blindside, OGIO, Union, Broken Boardshop, Dank Squad, Celtek, Zotes Sunflower Seeds, ABZ Enterprises, Team Thunder, Lenitech Snow & Skate, Rome SDS, Arbor, KAB Rails, The Levitation Project and Spacecraft.