Words: Mike Garceau
Photos: Dave Young, Chandler Burgess, Peter Cirilli, Mike Dawsy
Video: Andrew Percival, Julian Focareta, Steve Yingling (COMING AS SOON AS THEY FINISH IT)

A long list of iconic events such as Spring Loaded, Dew Tour, and Huck Fest have helped solidify Killington Resort, VT as a major contributor to the New England snowboard scene. These days, you’ll find Rails 2 Riches, an event withstanding the test of time, continuing Killington’s acclaimed status.

Each December, snowboarders from across North America descend on Killington, eager to claim a piece of the contest’s $25K prize purse. Throughout the archives, you’ll stumble upon familiar names. The likes of Forest Bailey, Lucas Magoon, Mary Rand, Nate Haust, Jesse Paul, Riley Nickerson and Kaleah Opal Driscoll, all of whom have stood on the top step of the Rails 2 Riches podium. Climbing your way up that ladder is a serious accolade, and real financial buffer for the season ahead.

As the sun came up over Killington on December 9th, the scene was set for the 2017 edition of Rails 2 Riches. The Killington Parks crew had worked through the night, once again manicuring a picturesque venue that, for the day, would act as the stage for invited riders to display their talent. From left to right, the venue consisted of a downbar with multiple take-off options, a center feature made up of a back-to-back doghouse double-slider creeper to downbar, and an aggressive canted down-flat-down bar. As seems suit with the R2R venue build, it is best understood in photos.

Precision from the Killington Parks Crew. p: Cirilli

p: Cirilli

Qualifiers kicked off mid-morning with an hour-long open jam format, allowing the riders to lay down as many hits as physically possible. As time ticked off the clock, rather than slowing down, the riding seemed to only get better, leaving the judges with an increasingly hard task at hand. An incredible display of riding and a few broken boards later, the field would be narrowed down to twelve men (Jed Sky, Joey Leon, Max Lyons, Luke Haddock, Will Healy, Tim Major, Jeff Harvey, Levi Gunzburg, Jake Gaudet, Storm Rowe, Chris Depaula, Nate Haust) and five women (Ari Morrone, Savannah Shinske, Marjorie Couturier, Maggie Leon, Lauren Tamposi).

???? happy the only thing I broke was my board ?: @holdenbarth

A post shared by Maggie Leon (@maggie_leon) on

A heavy snowfall rolled into Killington as night fell and park crew touched up the venue. An impressive crowd filled in, beers in tow, and the DJ filled the night air with an A-list selection of tunes. The group of finalists all stood atop the venue, illuminated under the lights, and patiently awaited the first drop of finals. Forty-five minutes where put on the clock, and – game time!

A picture perfect scene, featuring Storm Rowe, at the 2017 Rails 2 Riches. P: Dawsy

P: Dawsy

From the first drop, hammers. Down to the last minute, hammers. Across the board, all the riders came out swinging and put on absolute show under the lights.

Since being a gentleman will never go out of style, we’ll start with the Ladies first. Too Hard rookie and R2R first timer Marjorie Couturier rode with a refreshingly raw style throughout the day; PA native Ari Morrone put on another impressive showing. Savannah Shinske landed herself a third place accolade with up clean backboards, and spins off features. No stranger to the podium, Killington’s own Maggie Leon nearly missed out on the top spot, with incredibly smooth riding and stylish boardslides stocked in her arsenal for all night. Last, but surely not least, Lauren Tamposi ended the evening with top honors and best trick.

If you’ve been in attendance at almost any east coast contest in the last few seasons, you should recognize that it was only a matter of time for the NH native. Lauren laid claim to the venue, riding with an aggressive style, sending huge gaps and finding her way on every feature. An incredibly clean, back blunt sameway 270 caught the judges attention early on, and would be a determining factor to her walking away with the crown.

Gentlemen, you’re next, and oh do I use that term loosely. The level of talent that has been displayed at Rails 2 Riches reaches another level, year in after year. On almost every drop, a trick was put down that was season-edit worthy. Jed Sky, Luke Haddock, Joey Leon, Jeff Harvey and Will Healy all stayed consistent, all were smooth, and all were a pleasure to watch. On any other day, in most any other contest, a podium spot would’ve surely had each of their names. This night was Rails 2 Riches, $5K was up for grabs on the top step of the podium and an absolute clinic was being put on by a heavy squad.

If it hadn’t been for Levi Gunzburg’s malfunctioning landing gear most of the night, we’ve got to believe he would’ve neared a podium spot. A definite standout with maneuvers like backboard sameway 3 transfer from the doubleslider to down, he had to be in the running. Taking it to the venue equally as hard was Jake Gaudet, who put down a smooth cab 270 to the flat of the DFD, 270 out, easily one of the top five tricks of the night. Last on the list of riders, just missing out on an award, was young gun, Chris Depaula. We’ll say it again so that you can remember it next time around. Chris Depaula. To whomever cranked this kids send meter to ten, thank you. Huge gaps, spinning in every direction, and from the word on the street, a serious toss-up for Best Trick between him and Tim Major… evidence to believe that the podium won’t escape him for much longer.

And with that, the higest honors. Best trick went to tech-wizard Tim Major for a boardslide pretzel 450 off the doubleslider into the downbar. While it may have taken a couple hits, that was seriously heavy fam. Hat’s off. Bringing your attention to the third step of the podium, an all too-cool and unbelievably consistent Max Lyons. There was a hard claim of a michaelchuck disaster to the down bar that we don’t remember seeing, but the countless number of switch tricks, clean spins, and close to zero falls, locked this one in for Mr. Lyons. Where can we go from there? Storm Rowe, folks. He might have not known what planet he was on after his name was announced for the podium, but he for sure knew what he was doing during that final. Stomping trick after trick that had everyone tossing their arms in the air, it was a well deserved spot on the podium, and one we’d expect to see him defend next year.

While we’re on that topic, defending your place and all, let’s take a moment to note a very important fact. Up until the 2016 Rails 2 Riches, the name Nate  Haust  and Rails 2 Riches men’s snowboard final, had never once shared the same sentence. That changed in a big way last season, as Haust took his first R2R crown. Fast forward to 2017, put the track on repeat, and you have yourself one hungry, incredibly talented rider, who has surely arrived on the scene. 

A confident Nate Haust, 45 minutes away from the repeat. P: Cirilli

P: Cirilli

We’ll leave it at that. A personal shout-out for another incredibly well honored 10% rule down the road at JAX Food & Games, and a massive congrats to Nate Haust, the newest name on the list of back-to-back champs and your winner of the 2017 Rails 2 Riches.

2017 Rails 2 Riches Podium
1 – Nate Haust
2 – Storm Rowe
3 – Max Lyons
Best Trick – Tim Major
1 – Lauren Tamposi
2 – Maggie Leon
3 – Savannah Shinske
Best Trick – Lauren Tamposi