The Cattleman's Rail Jam is the stalwart of Australian jibbing. It is a serious event held on a serious feature. Over its seven year history, it has been won by seriously good snowboarders. That's what makes it one of the highlights of the Australian contest calendar. This year's event was no exception.
The winner on the night, Tom Pelley. Photo Matt Hull.
Transfer Snowboard Magazine | Alex Cameron. Photos by Matt Hull
The Cattleman's contest is infamous. The slight tweak to the format this year meant that the whole event had a vibrant new feel. By forcing all riders except past champions to qualify, Cattleman's allowed a whole new breed of jibbers to ride the famous setup.
The result was an impressive showing from the Jindabyne snowboarders who made the trek down to Mount Buller to ride the feature for the first time. Of them, the standout was Cohen Davies alongside Troy Sturrock, Nick Harvey and Richie Carrol.
The official video from the night. Provided by Burton Australia.
Mount Buller turned on some classic Buller conditions for the 2012 Cattleman's Qualifiers. In gale force winds and fog, the riders took to the Cattleman's replica feature in the Mount Buller Park. Cameron Staveley rode incredibly well to take out the juniors event.
From start to finish, Tom Reilly dominated the opens qualifiers. The Newcastle lad with the long blonde fringe laid down his trademark silky smooth bag of tricks to take out $500. Local boy Chris De Campo finished second ($300) and Cohen Davies cruised into third ($200).
Cam Staveley pushes on through the Buller conditions to take out the Juniors event. Photo Matt Hull.
The contest lived up to its reputation; intense, action packed and crowd pleasing. Incredibly, a lot of the riders had not ridden the feature before. The mix of snow, rain and wind didn't slow down the action - this year we saw a few new tricks on the Cattleman's feature. One of these, Nick Harvey's gap to backside boardslide on the outside kink won best trick. What was so incredible about Nick's hit was that he landed the boardslide on the flat section of the kinked rail.
All the usual hammers were dropped: big 270s over the gap, closeout transfers, backflips and ollies down the stair set. This year, the new flavour for riders was to grab in the air before landing on the rail. Of these, Richie Carrol's stalefish to front lip and Troy Sturrock's stalefsih to frontboard were the standouts. By the end, the riders were exhausted and the crowd was buzzing.
Pete Long putting on a spectacle for the huge crowd. Photo Matt Hull.
Mitch McDonald front boarding through the Buller snow. Photo Matt Hull.
The Cattleman's Rail Jam ended with a hammer; Pete Long dropped from the top of the famous Cattleman's drop in and gapped to the centre rail for a crowd pleasing front board to fakie. It wrapped up what was an intense hour of riding by Australia's top snowboarders. The judges stood up and walked out of the judging enclosure to deliberate the decision of the contest.
The judges this year spent a record amount of time trying to determine the outcome of the contest. The standard of riding was unbelievably high. By the end of the jam session, all four judges had agreed on the same four standout riders; Jye Kearney, Tom Pelley, Cohen Davies and Chris De Campo. Trying to place them in a finishing order was virtually impossible.
Jye Kearney performed all night and capped it off with his trademark backflip down the stair set. This year he laid it out a little more than in years past. Photo Matt Hull.
The conversation amongst the judges was protracted. Every rider was discussed at length, talking about their strong tricks, their weaknesses, their consistency, the way they used the feature. After about five minutes, it was decided that Jye Kearney and Tom Pelley would be the top two riders, and Chris De Campo and Cohen Davies would be the next two. Again, working out their finishing order seemed impossible. There was a brief discussion about calling a tie for first and a tie for second.
Ultimately, there can only be one winner. In the end, the judges decided that was Tom Pelley. Tom was ruthlessly methodical in his approach to the contest. He has won before and knew what he needed to do. He led the session at the start, opening with the most technical tricks on the lower half of the feature. When the top was opened up, he pushed the riders to try new lines and tricks. Almost straight away he was trying the famous closeout transfer that he pioneered three years ago. He hit every rail switch, spun in all four directions and combined presses and boardslides.
The winners on the night - Tom Pelley, Jye Kearney, Chris De Campo and Nick Harvey. Photo Matt Hull.
However, Jye Kearney also put in a winning performance. He spun three different 270s over the gap and rode every single rail. Jye did the most technical tricks and the gnarliest tricks of the night. His backside 360 to 50-50 was a contender for best trick and was definitely the most stylish of the night. His backflip at the end also got the crowd going. However Jye also fell more than Tom and he didn't ride as many lines switch. The 4 judges were split 2 for Jye to win and 2 for Tom to win. It took fifteen minutes of conversation to split them, and even then it was only because they had to.
The debate about winners and losers, best tricks and best style raged well into the night. Even this morning, as dusty heads met for coffee, the debate raged on. As a judge, I can tell you that this contest couldn't have been closer.
The riders and friends at the after party - classic night. Photo Matt Hull.
everyone having fun at the Burton After Party. Photo Matt Hull.
THE OFFICAL BURTON PRESS RELEASE
Mt Buller, Saturday 14th July 2012 - Tom Pelley, 23, from Sydney has become only the second rider to ever win two Burton Cattleman's Rail Jams, in a riveting showdown between 15 of the country's best snowboarders on Mt Buller's famed Cattleman's Stair Set.
Tom took out the title and $4000, narrowly edging past second place Jye Kearney and third place Chris DeCampo in a clinical display of style and technicality. With a solid performance both regular and switch, Tom's experience in the event certainly showed as he methodically worked through his session. Noteworthy tricks included backside 50-50 to front-lip slide, pretzel out from the top close out rail as well as virtually every combination of 180s on and off the rail.
"I'm super stoked to be back on the podium - tonight's going to be massive!' Tom said after the big cheque was handed to him.
In what the judges called one of the closest finals to date, Jye Kearney was awarded second place with a series of signature frontside, backside and cab 270s over the gap as well as a solid backside 360 to 50-50 on the outer rail.
Mt Buller local Chris DeCampo was also impressive, taking out third spot with his flawless style and array of spins on and off the rail. Chris' switch backside nose-press, cab 180 out was also a close contender for the hit of the night.
The Best Trick however, was awarded to Nick Harvey who stomped a gap to boardslide through the kink on the infamous outside double-kink rail, a super high consequence trick never seen before at Cattleman's.
The 7th Annual Cattleman's Rail Jam brought a new event format, with only previous winners being allowed a direct path into the nighttime final. The day's qualifying events were held on the Burton Cattleman's Replica Stair Set in the Mt Buller Skyline park, in two heats - with the top 13 riders qualifying to the final. "This year's format is a great way to encourage up and coming talent" said Paul Colby, Burton Snowboards Brand Manager. "It really gives in-form riders, who otherwise wouldn't be able to compete, a chance to prove themselves".
In less than favourable conditions, it was Tom Reilly from Newcastle who took out the qualifying event, followed by Chris DeCampo in second place and Cohen Davies in third. Special mention must also be given to 15-year-old Cameron Staveley who was the highest qualifying junior rider, walking away with $500 and a Contour Camera.
As in years past, the official after party at the famous Kooroora Hotel did not disappoint, with RJMC and Cut N Paste sending party goers hand's skyward. The duo, who are touring for their DJ Knows Alpine Tour, ignited the Kooroora Back Bar with help from Corona, ensuring that the Cattleman's after party remains one of the most talked about events on the Australian snow calendar.
Click on any image to open the gallery from the night