Burlington, Vt. (November 18, 2014) — It was an action-packed weekend for snowboarding with the world’s best street riders bringing their urban riding skills to the heart of downtown Tokyo for the 4th annual Burton Rail Days presented by MINI. Canadian rider and member of the Burton Knowbuddy crew, Zach Aller, took home first place at the Burton Rail Days, which drew a record-breaking crowd to Roppongi Hills. Over 5,500 people came out to witness the intense snowboard competition on a picture perfect night in Tokyo.
The day started out with a free Riglet Park set-up in Roppongi Hills Arena where kids as young as three years old could learn to snowboard on specially designed mini park features. Olympic medalists and Burton Team riders Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka were on hand as guest instructors to pull the kids through the park and show them some tips and tricks. The fun continued as spectators of all ages showed up early to enjoy giveaways, athlete autograph sessions, an art exhibit and interactive experiences in the sponsor village. The crowds also loved checking out the completed Burton Rail Days course, created by Snow Park Technologies. Not only was the course design next level, it was also a work of art thanks to Japanese artists Kane, Kazzrock and Kress Eye who painted the massive course in their own unique styles. Later that day, the doors officially opened with an exclusive live performance from Japan’s highly acclaimed Thre3style champion, DJ Iku.
Finally, it was time for the main attraction – the Burton Rail Days snowboard competition – which got underway with a 40-minute jam session on a variety of urban elements, including rails, ledges, walls, jumps, and transitions. The field of 16 was eventually narrowed down to six finalists by the judges who were looking for a variety of tricks, use of the entire course, and strong overall impression. Those six riders then took two runs each in the finals to determine the podium and a share of the $27,000 prize purse. New for this year, judges also awarded three best-trick awards for the stand-out air, wall, and rail trick during the jam session portion.
The jam started as the first few riders down the course whipped the crowd into a frenzy with an awe-inspiring aerial display off the kicker to the tranny, setting the tone for the night. Canadian Frank April threw down an impressive frontside rodeo nosegrab making him $1,000 richer as he nabbed the first award of the night for best air trick. Local Japanese rider and crowd favorite Reo Takahashi, who earned the last Burton Rail Days competition spot during a ride-off in Friday’s training session, didn’t disappoint as he landed a massive kicker gap-to-backside wallride, winning him the best wall trick award. Rounding out the best trick awards was young Benny Milam from Minnesota who received an invite by winning Burton’s ‘Party In Your Park’ finals last season. The judges were impressed by Milam’s super technical frontside 50/50 on the creeper ledge to hardway 270 boardslide on the down rail and gave him the award for best rail trick. The action-packed jam session finally wound down as the top six riders moved into the finals. Lasse Ihalainen (FIN), Yuma Abe (JPN), Zak Hale (USA), Jamie Nicholls (GBR), Zach Aller (CAN), and Jaeger Bailey (USA) made their way to the top of the course for two runs to decide the overall winner.
In the end, it was Zach Aller (CAN) who took home $15,000 with a first place finish. Aller’s first run of frontside boardslide, backside 180 to boardslide on the transfer, and 50-50 on the ledge to wallride was good enough to get the win. In second place was Jaeger Bailey (USA) with a 50-50, 270 to boardslide, and 50-50 on the ledge. And finally, Yuma Abe (JPN) took third-place honors with a wallride 540. Zach Aller not only came away with his first Burton Rail Days title, but also had one of the more impressive stories of the week. After a last-minute opening in the competition, Aller was contacted with an invitation, just hours before he jumped on a plane to Tokyo to compete.
When asked about the experience and what it took to win, Aller had this to say: “Unreal, I don’t understand what’s going on right now. Pulled an all-nighter, 16 ½ hour flight later, straight to practice…man. Just getting it done…I think they liked my front blunt, switch-up on the transfer… 15 G’s… are you serious?”
Burton Rail Days 2014 Results:
1st: Zach Aller (CAN) – $15,000
2nd: Jaeger Bailey (USA) – $6,000
3rd: Yuma Abe (JPN) – $3,000
Best Air Trick: Frank April (CAN) – $1,000
Best Wall Trick: Reo Takahashi (JPN) – $1,000
Best Rail Trick: Benny Milam (USA) – $1,000