by Derek Putz
When you think of winter on the prairies you might picture a curling or hockey rink - but snowboarders spinning 30 feet in the air?
The sixth annual Sasktel Jibfest, presented by Off Axis, took place in Regina on March 15 and proved that snowboarding can exist on the prairies.
The area in front of the Legislative building was transformed into a snowboarding spectacle with ramps, jumps and rails. The two new events at this year's Jibfest included a polar dip and a fan favourite, the big air event. Competitors climbed up a ladder at least 50 feet in the air, proceeded down a steep incline and then dazzled those in attendance with flips, grabs and other spectacular aerial maneuvers.
Event organizer Danny Elder was pleased with this year's Jibfest, which attracted more people this year than last.
"I think (the improved attendance) has to do with the new events and the weather," Elder said. "I was pretty happy with the weather. I could have done without the wind, but as for the weather and the sun that day, it worked out pretty good."
The weather was nearly perfect for such an event, hovering just below zero degrees for most of the day. The snow that was hauled in from other places managed to stay together for the whole event but, as Elder explained, it wasn't easy.
"The snow wasn't a problem on the day of the event so much, but leading up to it, and getting it ready, that was definitely an issue."
Event workers were busy the whole day shoveling and transferring snow onto the ramps for the snowboarders. One of those snowboarders, Chris Meadows, has nine years of experience. He loved competing in this year's event.
"It was excellent," Meadows said. "I thought most of the people that came were impressed by the work that was put into this event and the new things this year. The big air drop and the polar dip definitely gave more entertainment for the crowd."
Even with the addition of the new competitions this year, Elder is always looking for ways to make the event even better.
"We have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we're going to do next year, but we're always trying to make it bigger and better."
Like years previous, snowboarders from across the country were welcome to compete in amateur and professional divisions for $10,000 in cash and prizes.
"We had people everywhere from Whistler to Toronto," Elder said.
It may sound strange that people will come from across Canada to the prairies for a traditional mountain sport, but there are many homegrown snowboarders in Saskatchewan, too.
"It was great showing what Saskatchewan snowboarding has to offer," Meadows said.
Photos submitted by Derek Putz