The urban snowboarding event Red Bull Heavy Metal slid into Detroit’s Hart Plaza on February 11th filled with thrills, chills and a couple of massive spills. Over 40 top boarders from across North America, including local Detroiter Grace Warner and Oshawa’s Marty Vachon.
Red Bull Heavy Metal is a single-day street snowboard contest that features the most progressive rail riding in the world. Following last winter’s revival in Duluth, MN, the highly touted street jam moved east to downtown Detroit’s iconic Hart Plaza for this year’s event.
The contest is broken into three zones, each one favoring different trick approaches.
Zone One was THE WALL, a 20-foot-tall slab of concrete famously hand planted by Scott Blum in “The SNOWBOARDER Movie.” Starting at the top of the plaza, boarders jumped onto a ramp of snow down the stairs before turning skyward up the wall. With warmer than usual weather and the sun beating down from a perfectly clear sky, the top of the wall was void of snow. This made the climb even riskier as the boarders transitioned from slick snow to hard concrete. Many could be seen going up the middle, where the Heavy Metal decal provided much needed relief from the concrete. Handstands and backflips were the tricks of the day.
Next up was Zone Two, where things get really technical and was also the most dangerous spot of the day. Riders had to descend down a narrow staircase with a Kink Rail featuring a down-flat-down profile. The super slippery ice conditions and a very short landing area got things a little gnarly during this session.
The final session of the day was Zone Three, the 50-foot length of steel handrail that runs down the stairs of the plaza amphitheater. A 50-foot bar with a slight kink at the end, is no small feat, but the boarders were up to the task. All of the tricks came out of their bags as they battled for podium rights.
In the end, Colorado’s Egan Wint came out on top for the women followed by Jaylen Hanson and Maggie Leon. Pat Fava of Cedar City, Utah finished on top of the podium for the men followed by Ryan Paul and Luke Winkelmann.
Up next is the Red Bull Slope Soakers event, taking over Copper Mountain, British Columbia on Saturday, April 13. The 2nd annual contest gives competitors a chance to strut their stuff across floating rails—not exactly your everyday rail jam. Call it a twist on a traditional pond skim, call it a pool party, call it Slope Soakers… this showdown is free for all to enter. Whether you’re looking to compete or plan to be a part of the rambunctious crowd, be sure to pencil this one in on your calendar.
RED BULL HEAVY METAL
All Photos by Brent Groh