Jibba Jabba is back

Builders prepare the Jibba Jabba course along Huron Street Friday morning. The snowboarding rail jam was held Saturday night. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo)

HOUGHTON — Some of the top snowboarders in the Midwest will converge on Huron Street in Houghton Saturday for a night of crowd-pleasing jumps, flips and other tricks.

The Jibba Jabba rail jam event is back for a second year after a 10-year layoff. Beginning at 6 p.m., the competition will see riders competing for $1,000 cash prizes for the best male and best female rider.

“Then to keep it interesting, we also do two best tricks throughout the event, which really pushes riders to want to put on a show,” said organizer Jenn Reed.

About 30 to 35 riders are expected to compete Saturday, Reed said. They include 17-year-old boarder Jaylen Hanson, who competed at the X Games last week. Many of the boarders also participated in a large competition in Minneapolis last weekend.

“We’ve had great exposure, not just locally here,” Reed said. “It’s been spread all over the Midwest.”

The course runs from Shelden Avenue all the way down to the Portage Lake District Library, where crews were building a ramp Friday morning. The event is free to attend, drawing crowds several people deep along the length of the course.

The boarders will line up at Shelden and keep going throughout the hour-and-a-half session. Their creativity will take over from there. The rail-heavy top section will lead to a center section of transition and rails, a big jump, and then a large feature at the bottom of the course.

“As a spectator, you’ll get to witness a bit of everything,” Reed said.

That extends to the course itself. For the first time, there will be a cattle gate-style rail at the start that will be shifted around during the competition to adjust the layout of the opening section.

“For the riders, it will create a different experience for them,” Reed said.

If Jibba Jabba continues, they plan to keep changing the course each year.

“You’ll never see the same thing twice,” Reed said.

For people who want to get food downtown without missing any action, there will be several food trucks on-site. Red Bull will be on site playing music.

If it gets chilly, the Portage Lake District Library will be open as a warming hut, and also have crafts for kids to take home.

“We just expect people to come enjoy themselves, and enjoy the snow,” Reed said.

Quantity and quality of snow had been a concern. However, Reed said, the city Department of Public Works had told organizers “not to worry about it.”

“Here we are today and the snow looks great,” she said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better crew to make this happen and pull it off.”


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