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Friday, October 8, 2010
Updated: October 11, 12:30 PM ET
Pre-season contest roundup


Fall has officially begun, but for most snowboarders, the snow can't come fast enough. Even though the lifts don't start turning for another few weeks, you can rest easy knowing that there are plenty of pre-season events going down to satiate your appetite for the shred.

Downtown Throwdown ~ Seattle, Washington
Saturday, Oct. 9

Forest Bailey at the Downtown Throwdown.
The Downtown Throwdown hits Pioneer Square for its fifth year this weekend. Known for its truly fun vibe, Downtown Throwdown promises one of the best displays of rail riding each season. Snowboy Productions' Head Honcho, Krush Kulesza says the jam has been successful because "it's everything that riders would want in their ideal contest -- if the riders are stoked, everyone watching will be stoked. No heats, nobody has to wear bibs, and this creates a more organic kind of event."

Nick Visconti, who won in 2009, echoes this sentiment. "I love this event because it epitomizes the idea of core snowboarding and is built on the foundation of love for snowboarding. I am excited to go every year."

Forest Bailey, Johnny Lazzareschi, Austen Sweetin, and Jess Kimura will be competing, along with 21 other riders who are "carrying the torch for urban snowboarding," says Kulesza. Shreds like Scott Stevens and Austin Hironaka, who spend more time filming than competing, still come back to this event each year, which is the most solid endorsement a contest can ask for.

Josh Zerkel, Motown Throwdown
Motown Throwdown ~ Morgantown, West Virginia
Saturday, Oct. 30

West Virginia is not a state that is not exactly synonymous with snowboarding, which is the reason why the Motown Throwdown exists: to introduce the snowboard world to the "Mountain State." (Yes, that's WV's official nickname.) Andrew Walker, who produces the rail jam, is part of the passionate and fiercely loyal West Virginia snowboard scene. "West Virginia has really good winters, but not a lot of people understand that," says Walker, "I want to show people that WV does have a selection of really good riders."

This contest is unique: legitimate rail trickery as well as dudes in cowboy hats equally rile up the crowd, and the excitement is infectious. Says Forest Bailey, who competed two seasons ago, "the college atmosphere was fun, because kids were going crazy during the contest." This year the event grows, adding a concert featuring Mix Master Mike. Throw in that it's Halloween weekend and Morgantown's University of West Virginia is the number four party school in the U.S., and you can expect wild southern-style antics all evening long.

Shaun Murphy, Queen City Sessions
Queen City Sessions ~ Burlington, Vermont Saturday, Nov. 6
As much a marker of the coming season in Vermont as tapping maple trees, Burton's Queen City Sessions returns, after a two-year hiatus, for its fifth year. Armed with scaffolding and dump trucks of snow, Burton closes down a busy street in the center of Burlington and invites talent from all over New England to compete. Aaron Simmers, Burton's Event Coordinator, is excited to bring the event back. "Burton's job as part of this community [is] to make snowboarding more awesome for everyone here, and [to] support everyone that has a stake in Vermont snowboarding."

Expect to see up and coming riders who, although you may not recognize their names yet, will become familiar faces over the next few years. Mike Ravelson, Shaun Murphy, Hans Mindnich, and Ty Walker are on the invite list. IJC certified judges, a concert featuring DJ crew, Bonjour-Hi, and a video contest for aspiring filmers, round out the list of reasons why Queen City is a must-see in the Northeast.

Unknown shredder at the Backyard Bang
Backyard Bang ~ Denver, Colorado
Saturday, Nov. 20

Salomon's Backyard Bang has a record of forecasting snowboarding's up-and-coming rail slayers. Jed Anderson won in 2007, 2008 saw Austen Sweetin top the podium, and last year Forest Bailey took first. This year, a new list of hungry AMs will be gunning for the top spot in front of an excited crowd of city-dwellers, resort town folks and local pros. Says Salomon's Rian Rhoe, "the Summit County crew comes to hangout, party and watch snowboarding, and kids from Denver roll up for free product and pro sightings. There's so much enthusiasm for snowboarding."

The contest is set downtown next to The Art Institute of Colorado, and Salomon teams up with the Institute to put on an art show and charity auction. Says Rhoe, "you can literally go from looking at art on snowboards, to watching the rail jam, to partying at an old church converted into a nightclub." There's definitely something for everyone.