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2011 Downtown Throwdown in Seattle

“We are snowboarding in the streets of Seattle–no holds barred!” —Jesse Burtner
Most photos by Eric Schofhauser

Seattle’s historic Occidental Park once again played host to the Downtown Throwdown on Saturday, marking the rail jam’s sixth year of inundating the city’s core with a spirited snowboard crowd. Grown from grassroots by Snowboy Productions into the region’s notorious kickoff event of the season, the DTTD is a spectacle of rail-riding’s finest young talent, all gunning for $10,000 in prize money. This year, the sun came out to play; Occupy Seattle protesters geared up for an evening march on the fringes; and the snowboarders threw down a display of riding so wicked the snow gods were surely pleased and will bring an awesome winter.

The course changes each year and this edition served riders up with a downrail kinked at the tip, a pole jam, a down-flat-down box, a butter-box and a wallride with channel gap. At least 20 riders showed up to compete with familiar faces in the mix. Capita’s Scott Stevens was on hand, bringing his deft cat-like moves and consistent style on a board from the big screen (in Defenders of Awesome) to live action before the crowd, eliciting constant cheers. Last year’s champ, Ryan Paul was dropping in; his perpetual smile evidence of the fun he was having. He tossed spins the hard way onto the rails and tamed the wall ride with elegant presses. Nick Visconti was so quiet, yet so present before the crowd. He had his head in the game and kept things cool with smooth, sure-footed combo lines.

Forest Bailey was in attendance, proving with easy style and a veteran’s confidence why he has a signature Park Pickle board. Dylan Thompson captured the show for while with his pursuit to land a front flip through the kink in the down-flat-down box. He did, and the crowd went into a frenzy.

Playing emcee, as he does at all the local events, Seattle’s legendary Jesse Burtner—still killing on a shredstick as seen in Think Thank’s latest Ransack Rebellion—served both to heckle the riders in good fun, and identify the flurry of tricks thrown before the crowd. In the judge’s nest, the likes of  Zac Marben, LNP, Darrell Mathes, Sean Genovese and Johnny Lazzareschi lent a scrutinizing eye down on the competitors. The contest has become a personal mandatory event for many pro-riders during pre-season for its laidback  atmosphere infused with pure Northwest-vibes.

The jam-style format of the contest gives the riders the opportunity to drop-in as many times as they want in order to present their goods to the judges. Of course things can get rowdy in such a style, too. Doubles performances ensued. Close-collision-calls kept the crowd on their toes, and some unorchestrated moves went down, such as the over-under with two riders on the wallride/gap, and when Stevens offered his board as a jib feature to another rider barreling down on him from the rails.Only one rider wore a helmet in the contest: newcomer and Spokane-Feeders winner Stefan Krumm. Hiking the fastest and dropping in the most, he was there to make his mark on the scene. The above backside rodeo off the pole jam was the exclamation point on that statement. His efforts were recognized with the Destroyer Award.

Still, amid all showmanship, style and skill, the rider who won did so on clean technical talent. In his understated but deadly way, Brandon Hobush swept out from under the pack to impress the judges as a true rider’s-rider with his ability execute the tough maneuvers and land them consistently. He earned himself $5000. Dylan Thompson took second place. Ryan Paul, third. Dylan Alito fourth for his hard-charging attacks on the wallride; and Stevens walked with fifth.

On the rare warm autumn day in Seattle, the 6th annual Downtown Throwdown, hosted by Lib Tech, reaffirmed its legacy as more of a shred-party-with-cash-prizes, than snowboard contest with high-stakes intensity. The talent brought to the year’s event only carried on the tradition of the massive amounts of ability brought to the DTTD.

The Throwdown revs up the call for winter in these parts. And we know Krush and his Snowboy crew have more contests up their sleeves. If this winter is anything like the last, it’s bound to be good.

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