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updated: 1/20/2011 11:49 AM

Raging Buffalo to host 3rd Rail Jam

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By Mike Miazga | Daily Herald correspondent

The popular Raging Buffalo snowboard park just south of Algonquin is already a hip place to be.

Come Saturday, the hip-o-meter will be buried even further into the red when the UnderArmour 3rd Rail Jam grass-roots snow competition returns to one of the top snowboarding parks in the country.

The 3rd Rail Jam is billed as a winner-take-all event where up to 150 amateur riders compete for cash and limited-edition prizes in one of four divisions: 15-and-under; all girls; best of breed (males 16-and-over); and skiers.

The Algonquin event, which drew more than 1,500 individuals last year, is one of eight UnderArmour 3rd Rail Jam stops throughout the country. The tour, which increased from five to eight events this year, started on New Year's Day in Vermont and ends Feb. 26 in North Carolina.

"The 3rd Rail Jam is a mash-up of hip-hop and snow sport culture," promoter Timmy Grins tells the Daily Herald. "Imagine the South Bronx in 1984 crashing into the Colorado Rockies. You've got true-school hip-hop and true-school snowboarding. It's a positive communal gathering at each one of these mountains."

As Grins indicates, snow sports aren't the only attraction at Raging Buffalo Saturday. The event will also feature a freestyle MC bunker battle, live graffiti art by some of North America's most notorious graffiti crews and plenty of hip-hop music.

"It's high energy and it's edgy from start to finish," Grins says. "Last year at Raging Buffalo was tremendous. I can't say enough about Keith Duck (Raging Buffalo owner). He's built one of the finest parks in the country. I feel like he's the patriarch of the entire Chicago-area snowboarding community."

Dundee Middle School sixth-grader Devan Patterson will be one of the snowboarding competitors Saturday. He's been riding at Raging Buffalo for seven years and can't wait for the 3rd Rail Jam to get underway.

"It's a lot of fun," the 12-year-old Patterson says. "You really get into it. It's fun doing the rail jams and all of the competitions."

Patterson is particularly fond of the musical component.

"The thing I really like about it is that the music is on all the time," he says. "It makes it a lot easier for me to focus when the music is on."

Lake Forest resident and Lake Forest High School attendee Ben Van Vlissingen calls Raging Buffalo his home mountain. He took first in the skier division at last year's event.

"A couple of friends told me about it last year," said Van Vlissingen. "They made the park great. It looked super-sick. It was a great day for skiing. The snow was perfect. It was cool with all the graffiti up. They had some cool art at the bottom of the hill and they had some awesome music. Guys were rapping. It was really cool."

While the overall atmosphere will be a sight to see, there will be equal excitement in the snow throughout the day.

"What we strive for is to upset the setup," Grins states. "There are people that will say the stereotypical things like they're a bunch of troublemakers wearing their pants too low and wearing their clothes to big and being too loud. Come out and see how hard they work at their craft. I've gained a tremendous amount of respect watching these people and what they do. These are the future leaders of America."

Grins is hoping for a turnout in the 2,500-3,500 range Saturday. Patterson, for one, doesn't mind the larger crowds one bit.

"It's a lot of fun when people are watching you snowboard and they clap when you do really good tricks," Patterson says.

Grins adds, "People are going to witness some amazing rail riding. You'll will be surprised what these kids can do when you see the acrobatics. You're going to see the types of stuff you only see in YouTube videos and the music selection is top-notch."

The registration fee is $25 per person and $5 per entry is donated to the Amped4aCure charity, which raises awareness and funding for cancer research.

A special after party, which will include plenty more music and even a break dancing crew, will be held Saturday night at Sideouts, 4018 Roberts Road, Island Lake.

For more information, visit 3rdrailjam.com.

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