words: Matt Stillman
photos: Peter Cirilli, Chandler Burgess, and Dave Young
captions: Peter Cirilli
The Beast. K-Town. Killy. No matter what you call Killington Mountain it’s impossible to deny its importance in the New England snowboard scene. It’s safe to say that the Killington Parks have helped contribute to the mountain’s icon status. At the core of all the hard work and creativity that the Parks Crew brings to the mountain is the legendary Rails 2 Riches contest. A marquee New England event, you can bet that December 5th has been circled on calendars for months now. The list of R2R winners reads like a who’s who of up and coming and established talent, including, but not limited to Lucas Magoon, Riley Nickerson, Mary Rand, Jesse Paul, Luke Haddock and Niko Cioffi. Needless to say, a R2R victory is a serious notch on the belt and draws some heavy out of town riders with a casual 25K purse.
As the sun dropped below the horizon and the flood lights sprung to life on Saturday, the 2015 course looked primed and ready to see some heavy finals action. The park crew had assembled a set up that featured a little bit of everything. From left to right, the course was made up of a relatively tame down tube, a pole jam angled towards the centerpiece feature which was a hybrid wall ride/box top/right side creeper rail, an urban style down rail and down-flat-down rail rounding out the course.
Once the dust from qualifiers had settled the field was narrowed to eleven men and six women, all ready to throw their carcasses for a chance at some prize money. Once Killington head honcho Mike Garceau gave the word, the riders dropped in and came out swinging. Finals were live.
The down-flat-down seemed to be the feature du jour for the first stretch, seeing countless disaster variations as well as a few frontboards through the kink that were laced up. The Killington community was well represented in the finals; Matt Shaffer and Jordan Wells were keeping things silky smooth on the DFD while Tyler Lynch, back from Tahoe, brought his signature style to everything he rode. Batting for the out of town team, Jesse Paul was legitimately on fire as he defended his R2R title, seemingly stomping everything he tried. Jesse seemed to be working the course systemically, hitting each feature multiple times almost in sequence. Darkside team rider and another Killington local, Timmy Major is no stranger to rail jams and was spinning like he has a mortgage to pay. This would eventually help him to lock down Men’s Best Trick as he landed a cab 450 on the DFD.
The wallride/box-top/creeper feature was a tough nut to crack. The top box feature saw the most action from Luke Haddock and his effortless laybacks threes out. Lily Calabrese made the drive down from Sugarbush and kept things tech with down rail domination that included a cab-one-on-back-one-out. Max Lyons was allowed to leave Carinthia long enough to deliver several shifty-to-frontboards on the DFD as well as few other non-shifty based tricks. Canadian nomad Kael Hill was out for blood and was sending it on every feature, he spent a serious amount of time on the down tube just doing every spin variation possible.
Pennsylvania’s Ari Morone was playing for keeps, locking in on seemingly everything she threw on the down rail and DFD. Consistent and technical riding earner her a first place win on the ladies side of things. Lily Calabrese walked away with a second place finish, thanks to her clean, crisp style and tech prowess. Lauren Tamposi was turning heads all night as she made multiple attempts at a disaster 270 on the DFD. Spoiler alert, she finally got it and earner herself third place and Women’s Best Trick award.
As fatigue started to set in and the hike back up took its toll, a few riders began to set themselves apart by continuing to ride away from their tricks. Luke Haddock kept things nice and crispy and he pressed his way to third place with a healthy mix of style and stomped landings. No stranger to rail jam podiums himself, Kael Hill had been spinning and gapping like a man on fire all day. He earned himself a cool $2,250 for his troubles. So, who took top honors and the 5K? Look no further than rail jam connoisseur and defending champ, Jesse Paul! To say that Jesse’s program is dialed is the understatement of the month; consistency, variety and flawlessly exhibited style helped Jesse to lock down his second R2R title. Real talk, Jesse Paul is on one right now.
But just before the champions were given their massive checks, as the last riders dropped and everyone started to gather at the base area, a rider approached out of the darkness. It seemed only fitting that veritable Vermont legend Dakota Whitaker should be sending it shirtless with a PBR in his clutches. His speed built as he approached the lip, spinning a 270 over the DFD with his soda still in hand. Did he land it? Frankly, as far as the crowd was concerned he stomped it, chugged the beer and rode into the sunset. Alright fine, the sun had been down for a while but it was awesome and the perfect ender to another badass year of R2R.
Congrats to all the riders–loc-dogs and out of towners alike all killed it. A shit-ton of props for the Killington Parks staff for doing a world-class job with the set-up and grooming of the course, as well as Mike Garceau and the whole crew at Killington. And thanks to the DJ for not playing excessive Dubstep. For real though fam, you the real MVP.
First – Jesse Paul
Second – Kael Hill
Third – Luke Haddock
First – Ari Morrone
Second – Lily Calabrese
Third – Laura Tamposi
Men’s Best Trick – Tim Major
Women’s Best Trick – Laura Tamposi
Read the full Jesse Paul takes back-to-back titles at Killington Rails 2 Riches 2015 article on Snowboarder Magazine.