Words by Frank Raymond
Photos courtesy of Axis Boutique
Here we go again with another edition of the Taxis Hold’em rail jam. Everyone knows that Quebec is the place to be when it comes to street rails and the Taxis Hold’em event confirmed that fact once again. The event organizers worked extra hard this year on the second annual event in an effort to tidy up the details and put on a legit and flawless competition. Combine that with a sick setup and freeski guru JF Cusson and myself as the judges, and the Taxis Hold’em was pretty much as good as it gets when it comes to badass rail jams.
The Setup: c-rail, down pipe, down-flat granite ledge.
It all started on Saturday morning-ish, December 4th with the qualifiers, where a lot of up and coming rail killers had a 45-minute jam to show and prove that they were up to par with the big boys. Only five of the 50 participants were set to move onto the semi-finals so there was no playing it safe. A multiple of 270’s in and out were executed but only a few were landed cleanly because of the hardcore setup (no boxes or Mickey Mouse stuff...other event planners take note). A few competitors separated themselves from the pack with different tricks that included surface spins on the round bar by Vincent Charette and a silky smooth nose butter in by Frank GP which scored both of them spots in the semis.
Some lucky/good riders were pre-qualified for the semi-finals after making finals at last year’s event, during which the level of riding was stepped up in a big way. I have never seen a rail comp with so many different tricks, as every rider had their own style and took their own approach to the setup. Only eight of the 16 riders were picked to move to the final table, including (to no one’s surprise) Phil ‘B-Dog’ Casabon, along with Martin Bullet, Alex Bellemare, Frank GP, Dom Laporte, Emile Bergeron (B-Paul younger brother…ps: watch out for this kid) Vincent Charette, Felix Tremblay, Kristaps Thompson, Alexandre Dufour and Steven Normandin.
The format of the finals was a poker game concept. Everyone was given $100 in chips, and each round every rider had to put $20 into the pot, write down the trick they wanted to do (without letting their opponents know), and execute it. The winner took the pot and the second best would receive $20 from the house. After five hands, the skier with the most chips would win the contest, with the second highest chip earner taking 2nd, and so on. However in an effort to mix things up, if you won a hand with a trick you weren’t allowed to do that same trick again.
Long story short, Alex Bellemare pretty much dominated the first three hands, securing himself the win, and taking home $2000 and a Nixon watch. Second place, $750 and a Nixon watch was given to Frank GP because of his smooth style combined with tech tricks and of course his Mexican mustache. Third place went to B-Doggie Dog, who could have of easily won the comp with his street game being that he’s on a whole other level, but a few slips here and there cost him the win, although he was more than happy to round out the podium in 3rd and earn himself at MSSI 5-star pass and a Nixon watch.
Phil Casabon (3rd), Alex Bellemare (1st), Frank GP (2nd)