Urban snowboarding in Occidental Park
Ah, autumn in Seattle, with that nip in the air. Fallen leaves dot the sidewalks, and snowboarders turn Occidental Park into a "giant snow cone." Organizers of the sixth annual Downtown Throwdown Saturday built a giant ramp in the Pioneer Square park and covered it with 80,000 pounds of crushed ice, which they sprinkled with salt.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Ah, autumn in Seattle, with that nip in the air. Fallen leaves dot the sidewalks, and snowboarders turn Occidental Park into a "giant snow cone."
Organizers of the sixth annual Downtown Throwdown Saturday built a giant ramp in the Pioneer Square park and covered it with 80,000 pounds of crushed ice, which they sprinkled with salt.
And as the "snow" melted, about 25 professional snowboarders took turns making 20-second runs down the ramp — enough time to skid against a rail, jump off the edge of the slope or do a quick back flip before it was time to unstrap their boots, climb the stairs and do it again.
Judges watched two one-hour "jams" and handed out $10,000 in prize money.
"This is definitely not like amateur hour," said Gareth Fotouhi, of Seattle. "It's a legitimate thing, and the riders here are definitely respected. You're seeing some of the best riders in the world."
Promoter Krush Kulesza said the man-made snow is just like spring-snowboarding in the mountains.
He gestured toward hundreds of plastic bags of frosty crushed ice. "This is basically one giant snow cone."
A crowd of a couple hundred gathered to collect swag from event sponsors and catch a glimpse of the athletes they know from snowboarding videos.
"You're going to see a lot of crazy rail tricks, a lot of difficult technique. Should be a good show," said Brenton Siebenbaum, co-owner of local snowboard manufacturer L2R Snowboards.
He and his friends hoisted patio furniture on top of the company van and watched from the edge of Occidental Park. Below them, young fans and snowboarders hooted for the difficult tricks and shouted exclamations for the spectacular crashes.
The culture was relaxed — the event started nearly two hours later than advertised.
Promoters announced the outcome of a pickled-banana-eating contest and warned people not to stand too close to the edge of the course or they'd be hit by "errant snowboarders."
Competitor Dylan Thompson, 23, said he spends the winter months traveling, making videos of himself snowboarding in urban settings and on remote backcountry ramps.
"If I can just make money and do this, I'd rather do that than go get a normal job," he said.
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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