Sunny Vibes at Rail Jam 2019

Students gather together to watch ski and snowboard riders do rail tricks on a sunny spring day.

Melissa Gibbons, Production Manager
Photos by Melissa Gibbons

Yats Palat, vice-president student life, along with students from the Outdoor Recreation Management (OREC) program worked side by side this semester to bring back the popular Rail Jam. Held later in the semester than in previous years, the March 21 event was met with sunshine and great attendance. From 11 am until 3 pm in the library courtyard, music was bumping, skiers and snowboarders were doing tricks and students relaxed under the glowing sun. Food was readily available, along with alcohol for those of age. 

Palat credited OREC students Thomas Gregson and Levi Howlett as key players in the event’s setup, helping set up the mini-park. They picked up the rails and organized to have snow provided by their contacts at Mount Seymour. Northshore construction were very generous to provide some trucks for the transportation of the snow. They also reached out to riders they knew to participate in the event. Palat also said that Ann Luo, who is the program director at the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU), did a great job of co-organizing the event. “She is one of the most organized staff members I have ever worked with for sure, so she definitely deserves a special mention for that,” he said.

Palat noted that there were a few challenges that they faced on the day of the event, the biggest being time pressures with other events being held on campus that day. 

“We had elections, which is so big for us… Plus there was also another CSU event which was by the business societies. So all of that plus Rail Jam on the same day was just crazy,” he said. “Coming into the event we were trying to figure out how many staff and volunteers we could get, because we were very limited as we were stretched with all of these things going on. So that was the number one challenge for sure.”  

Palat also noted that they had some aspects of the event fell through including having the MC cancel and a shortage of microphones available on campus. Despite the troubles, Palat rallied at the last minute and stepped in as the MC for the day.  

“You have to do what you have to do…I thought there’s no point in blaming anybody, so I was thinking on what to do next, and just pulling everything together even if it doesn’t work out. But I will always try to deliver a good product,” he said. “I don’t ski or snowboard, I didn’t even have a script, didn’t have any thoughts… but I enjoyed doing it, and I like making students laugh and seeing them with good energy – that inspires me to come up with good things.” 

Palat believes that this year’s Rail Jam turned out to be better than previous years. He was happy that there weren’t any complications similar to those they had to face in past years like the backlash they faced with the University for digging into the grass or any injuries. This years rails were more stable making the tricks safer for riders. 

Due to last year’s problems, the events coordinators used sandbags to make sure that the rails were secure.  

Palat emphasized that they worked hard on making the social aspect more attractive this year to encourage students to stay longer.  “We added those things like the DJ, beer garden, vendors, sponsors that we didn’t used to have, a food for charity donation, which collected more than $300. We tried to made the social side much bigger and it payed off,” said Palat. The donations went towards Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports (VASS) and Disability Alliance BC. 

Palat describes that one of his favorite moments was seeing the picnic tables that usually fit six people with a dozen or so crowded around them. “The event definitely exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I knew we would get a lot of people, but never thought people would stay that long.”  

Palat said that student life shouldn’t just be about coming to class, studying and leaving. “It’s a lot more than that, like balancing your non-academic things, like your mental health, and for me a good way of doing that is by pulling a fun event together, and that’s what I like to do”. 

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