So much of the SoCal competitive scene revolves around snowboarding, and the resorts there churn out their share of snowboarding pros. Pro skier Craig Coker is aiming to change that with his War of Rails at Bear Mountain Feb. 26.
"Skiing is getting bigger and bigger there, but there's nowhere to compete," Coker told OnTheSnow. "I've always wanted to create my own event with things I wanted to do differently than other events."
He's doing just that.
Craig Coker's War of Rails presented by Monster Energy lets freeskiers duke it out for a $15,000 purse. The winner takes home $8,000.
Coker hosted the first War of Rails last winter at Bear Mountain. "It's a one man show right now," he said. He does the website, the organizing, the course design, and then serves as the head judge during the event.
There's something grassroots and organic about the event in spite of the big prize money attached to it. Coker designs the course around what rails and features he finds fun. He enlists other professional athletes as judges. "It's a very athlete inspired event," he said. "The judges know what they are looking at."
The event takes 75 competitors, who register online and pay a $60 entry fee that includes lift tickets. The competition features one division-men's freeski open. Coker adds that a couple girls may be competing along with the guys.
The qualifying round at 11:30 a.m. is a 30-minute jam session with $100 bills handed out for best tricks. Semi-finals will also be a 30-minute jam format at 1 p.m. Finals, which are scheduled for 2 p.m., consists of a five-minute competition on each feature.
The event draws crowds of spectators, viewing the action from the base area.
Bear Mountain is known for being a mountain-wide terrain park. Its superpipe opened Feb. 12 for the season.
Crowds gather at the base area of Bear Mountain to watch the War of Rails competition.