If I remember correctly the first slide jam I attended was back in 2009 or early 2010. Times have changed since then and today slide jams are carried out pretty differently. I remember how a slide jam was considered bangin’ if it was 30 homies basically just skating a hill with maybe a couple prizes thrown out and a party after. Nowadays, slide jams are attracting hundreds of skaters and even more spectators. I think it’s sick, but there are a few weird things that come with this change.
I don’t personally enjoy huckin’ myself off of launch ramps—some people do, and that’s rad—but it doesn’t have much to do with sliding or even crushing hills, right? I’ve seen some slide jams that aren’t even focused on sliding or mobbing a hill at all—just who can throw themselves the highest and furthest off the ramp. Like I said, that’s gnarly, but I think it should be it’s own deal; the two styles should be somewhat separate. Maybe have a slide jam with no ramps and judged by a couple OGs. Then bust out the ramps afterwards for a “biggest air” or “best trick” comp. That way the people who really like going fast and sliding aren’t competing with people that are doing something completely different (even though it is definitely sick).
The other thing I’ve come to realize is that sliding, and the style in which a person slides, is pretty subjective and subtle. It’s kind of hard to judge it, compared to let’s say a vert contest, where the maneuvers are more distinct and varied. I feel like downhill skating is in a bit more of a gray-area than some other types of skating. I think the raddest thing would be to have a straight hill-jam event, where a bunch of people just get together and mob a hill for the sake of fun—traditional competition being removed out of it completely, and the purpose being to just have fun with the homies and watch them shred. Then fuck it, bring out the ramps and everyone skate how they please. Maybe handout some prizes to some deserving kids or just toss ‘em out and call it a day with a barbecue and party.
Either way, skating is skating and you’re meant to have fun, even if it’s a “competition” or slide jam with ramps. As much as I would like to see some of this change I’m not really trippin’. I’m just fired-up that downhill is moving forward and growing. No doubt slide jams will keep popping up and giving us a fun way to compete and skate with each other, which is awesome.
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