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5th Annual Downtown Throwdown

Photos by Eric Schofhauser

La Nina must be on the horizon. It rained on this year’s Downtown Throwdown—a total indication that a gnarly season is on the way. Or… just a another fall day in Washington. But the drizzle-turned-misty flurry-turned heavy rain hardly put a damper on lively spirits as the core snowboard community huddled in Seattle’s Pioneer Square (in ponchos) sideline of the rail jam, put on by Snowboy Productions. The grassroots contest has become the customary kickoff event for the upcoming season the last five years, and this year it held true to that with insane snowriding serving as a rallying cry to beckon—or challenge—the snow gods.

Amid the rustic brick buildings and tarnished statues of old-town’s Occidental Park, the riders threw down despite the soggy conditions—and slick rails. The always-creative course this year consisted of a barrel stack below the two drop-in rails, concluding with the ever-popular wall-rides. The cohort of riders used said jibbery to demonstrate the future of urban shredding. Local “Hiro” Austin Hironaka used those walls to display his reputed ultra smooth style, launching channel gaps between the two. His local comrade, Austin Sweetin, seemed everywhere at once with tricks,  atop each obstacle so quickly, the crowd could hardly keep him in focus. And self-declared  (as he did standing atop the towering drop-in, smiling down at the crowd) single-and-ready-to-mingle Johnny Lazzareschi probably did go home with a date on each arm thanks to his luminous energy and stomped tricks trailing 4, 5 descriptions in one. He did indeed go home with the surprise Zumiez Destroyer Award: a thousand bones and a shiny new angle grinder. All together, $8,000 were up for grabs.

Hironaka boosting channel gaps

Cover boy Austin Sweetin

A northwest icon in his own right, the hilarious Jesse  Burtner on the mic lovelingly taunted the riders with the elusive 540. Still, every combination of spin, directional stance, press and switch beneath it dazzled the crowd, who let it be known when they appreciated what they saw.  The barrels offered an avenue for some unprecedented maneuvers. Nick Visconti revved up the cheers with his with one-footed fastplants in neon boots across the top. And Scott Stevens elicited collective gasps with his handsprings up and over the barrel stack, so graceful and so deserving of his $2000 second-place prize.

Nick Visconti’s fancy footwork

Scott Stevens performing gymNASTics

Forest Bailey, a name well-known by now in these parts, consistently stoked out the crowd with his multi-combo trick lines on his signature Park Pickle. He’s now $1000 richer, having garnered 3rd place. Basically, no rider disappointed and everyone’s unique style brought a complementary mix of trickery. Jack Kuzyk was so determined to impress, he seemed to almost forget that he was in a jam. The judges didn’t; they awarded him fourth place and $750.

Forest Bailey using the slickness to offer some steeze

Roosted up in the judging tower were snowboarders by the names of Sean Genovese,  Zac Marben, Pat Milbery, and Darrell Mathis. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They used their shred wisdom to decide that Ryan Paul had impressed over all with his dialed-in consistency. He won $3,000.

But the one to impress this writer most? Female phenom Jess Kimura. That chick—the only to enter this contest— is tough, talented and so damn smooth, she gives the guys a run for their steeze. She’s on posters and in shred films, and stuff. Badass.

Jess Kimura shaving it off

Decorating the outer rim of the 5th Annual DTTD were the sponsor tents, with a healthy showing of local companies: Lib Tech, Jones Soda and Zumiez. Within its boundaries the jibbery that went down was so hot, the rain couldn’t put a chill on the good vibes circulating. Thanks to Snowboy Productions, Seattle got a little pre-season taste of the coveted white stuff. Here’s to hoping La Nina makes good on her promise to give us a big heaping of it.

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