Red Bull Heavy Metal Turns Cascade Park into Extreme Snowboard Course

40 riders from California to as far as Canada were attracted to Duluth’s unique venue.

DULUTH, Minn.- After 19 years the Red Bull Heavy Metal Rail Jam came back bringing extreme street snowboarding stunts right to many Duluthians’ backyard – Cascade Park.

It’s not a sport for the faint of heart, but the thrill is what fuels these athletes.

“Definitely scary,” snowboarder Melissa Riitano said. “Had butterflies dropping in for that first hit.”

Last held back in 2003, the Red Bull Heavy Metal Rail Jam brings street snowboarding into the spotlight.

40 riders from California to as far as Canada were attracted to Duluth’s unique venue of Cascade Park.

“Casey Pflipsen who’s a local rider, Benny Milam, obviously a big name I know he kind of put this whole thing on,” said local fan Rawlin Kessler.

Milam, a Minnesota native, won 1st place in the Men’s division.

The event was divided up into three Zones.

The first, and perhaps most daunting, riders blast off the tower and have to stick a perfect landing — 15 to 20 feet below.

“It’s just you’re dropping off into nothing and definitely a little intimidating to say the least,” Riitano said.

One boarder broke her knee in this zone, while others brushed off some nasty hits – like plowing into a large tree.

Zone 2 was called the Playground. Riders choose between picnic tables, fences, or rails to perform tricks off of, sometimes hopping between obstacles at the same time.

And finally Zone 3 — the Metal.

Riders ground the infamous kink rail with closeout handrails, and on both sides, concrete stairs.

“I have done a bunch rail jams in the past but this is the first one kind of like to this magnitude,” said Riitano, competing out of Utah. “It’s definitely, features are large, intimidating but it’s really fun at the same time.”

Hundreds of fans cheered the boarders on, some who traveled just as far, and others — from just down the street.

“The fact that I walked here and I just walk home after like it does not get better than that,” Kessler said. “It really doesn’t.”

Locals like Kessler were familiar with how extreme cascade park could be, but couldn’t believe some well-known athletes were tackling it.

“This part’s crazy because I’ve seen this, everybody knows that there’s a lot of history at this spot as far as street snowboarding goes and to be out here to see like a live competition at it it’s unbelievable,” he said.

The cheers, oohs, and aahs of fans pumped the adrenaline for the death-defying shredders.

“I think it’s really awesome,” said Riitano. ‘I think Duluth really showed up to support which is really cool it’s like hopefully, this will get more people to snowboard.”

“….I mean maybe not jump out of buildings,” she added, “but like go to their local hill and go snowboard. Cause it’s fun.”

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