words & photos:  Kristie GilesThis just in from the not-as-cool-as-Whistler-but-better-than-nothing department: Wisp Resort in McHenry, Md., has invested in a 125-foot strip of fancy astroturf. To celebrate, they're hosting the Endless Winter Rail Jam Series--the first leg of which went down this past Saturday. When practice started around 9 a.m., it was downpouring torrentially. However, there were already kids from all over Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia huddled under the Ballzout tents drinking free Red Bull, and a few snowboarders were braving the raindrops to sesh the crazy ride-on flat box. By 11, the storm had passed, as storms do, and all the late risers had filtered in. Contestants bonded over jokes about the riding surface ("Hey man, can you step that lip out? Let's all slip the landing quick.") for another two hours. Then at 1, the riders were broken up into 3 heats of 7, and they had exactly 30 minutes to get their shred on for the judges. Everyone got pretty dirty, but it was a good time.

At the end of the day, Pittsburgh's Tom Wallisch came out on top with some legit stuntage including both pretzels, a triple switch up, and some one-foot combos. Or maybe he won because he rolled in with a gun, but I doubt it, because he later lost the gun, and that's not a very Ninthward thing to do. I guess that's why he rides for Rossignol. Anyway, Jeff Oshnack, of State College, Pa., came in second, and Jonathan Stark (I'm not sure where he's from) rounded out third. They were awarded $100 cash, a case of Red Bull and Wisp tickets, and Wisp tickets, respectively, for their trickery.
Oh, and competition in the ladies division was also quite intense. The girl who won beat out her copious invisible opponents with some gay switch on 2 out-ish stuff all while trying to talk the boys with the hose out of a wet T-shirt contest. I think her name was Kristie Giles. But yeah, she got $50, too, despite sucking at life. The next rail jam is scheduled for Saturday, July 29, and will hopefully feature a more exciting setup. Practice will start at 9 a.m., the jam will be at 1 p.m., and entry fee will be $20. The more contestants, the bigger the purse. Check http://www.skiwisp.com for more information.