Skiers, ‘boarders take to streets

MARQUETTE – Durken Keena heard about the Downtown Showdown ski and snowboard rail jam before the ski season had even started. The 21-year-old Detroit native, who until recently attended Northern Michigan University, said that when he saw flyers for the event a couple weeks ago, he pre-registered online.

“Everybody’s been talking about it all season,” he said.

Held for the first time ever Saturday in downtown Marquette, the rail jam was by all accounts a success. East Washington Street, blocked off between Front Street and Lakeshore Boulevard, was turned into a miniature terrain park, replete with grind rails and small jumps. A small boat, topped with plywood, sat at the bottom of the run. All of it provided a diverse environment for skiiers and snowboarders to practice their repertoires of tricks.

“It’s such a sweet idea, coming downtown,” said Keena. “It’s so much fun having all these spectators and stuff. It’s good times; everybody’s having a good time. It’s good vibes, you know.”

“(It’s a) pretty solid setup,” said Tom Hocking of Harvey, who participated in the afternoon’s Open Jam, where the course was open to all riders before the start of the competiton. “For the (event’s)?first time ever they did great work.”

The event was a collaboration of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Marquette Downtown Development Authority and The Compound Ski and Board shop. Range Bank and Pike Distributing were the main sponors, with a handful of other area businesses providing additional sponsorship. The Waterfront was rented to provide a place for fans, skiiers and boarders to warm up and get food and drinks. The DDA and The Compound supplied the rails and local high schools and the NMU Constructors Club assembled them.

“(There was) a lot of community involvement, as with anything in Marquette,” said Alison Silk, public relations and marketing director of the Conventions and Visitors Bureau. “Everyone wanted to jump onboard.”

The Open Jam had upwards of 100 entrants, Silk said.

“People don’t know – they’re going to come and look at it and decide if they want to (participate), and we’ve had a ton of people in here doing day-of registration, and I’m really pleased with the numbers so far,” Silk said.

“(This was a) great turnout,” said Hocking. “Just judging by the turnout, I think it’ll be a regular thing.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 256. His email address is