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CSU community experiences RailJam for 1st time in 15 years

Colorado+State+University+snowboarder+Evan+Borman+hits+a+rail+during+the+CSU+RailJam+Revival+on+the+Lory+Student+Center+West+Lawn+March+21.
Collegian | Ava Puglisi
Colorado State University snowboarder Evan Borman hits a rail during the CSU RailJam Revival on the Lory Student Center West Lawn March 21.

Music thundered across the Lory Student Center West Lawn, now covered in snow, as students danced, chatted and shouted while their peers shredded the slope.

RailJam was a popular competition that gathered 2,000 spectators the last time it was held at Colorado State University 15 years ago. This year, the CSU Snowriders, Phi Kappa Theta and Associated Students of CSU felt that it was time for a revival.

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“It just stopped after 2009,” said Meron Siyoum, ASCSU director of traditions and programs. “There hasn’t really been any efforts to bring it back until last year. There was no organization on campus that, I guess, had the ability to also do something of that size.”

With a DJ, several food trucks and various merchandise vendors, RailJam created an environment for not only students who wished to celebrate Colorado culture but also community members who wanted in on the excitement. 

“Oftentimes, the spring semester is overlooked for big events. We’re hoping to bring back that campus spirit and that Ram spirit that people come to college to find.” –Braxton Dietz, ASCSU chief of staff

“We’re hoping that this event brings together all different sides of not only CSU but the Fort Collins community,” said Joseph Godshall, president of Phi Kappa Theta and an announcer at the event.

The $27,000 event with 30 men and eight women competitors took nearly a year of planning before the event was held Thursday, March 21.

“It started back in April of 2023 when Nick (DeSalvo) and Alex (Silverhart) — the student body president and vice president — started making plans to allocate funding for RailJam,” said Braxton Dietz, ASCSU chief of staff.

CSU Snowriders Vice President Tai Bloch addressed criticism of the large cost of the event, as only a small number of students were able to actually compete in the event.

“That campus engagement thing just was misconstrued for a lot of people’s minds,” Bloch said. “Participating doesn’t always necessarily mean that you are a competitor, but participating can be watching on the sidelines.”

In addition to the event being designed for the enjoyment of everyone, while there were no entries for competitors in the nonbinary category, inclusivity was kept in mind when planning the event.

“We’re trying to be as accessible and inclusive as we can with the event,” Bloch said. “We’re doing the best we can for sure, especially with the financial barriers that we run into.”

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Taegan Steinfort, a senior biology student at CSU who spectated the event, compared the unique atmosphere at RailJam to other events on campus.  

“It’s more like a party,” Steinfort said. “There’s more energy, and people are jumping around. It’s more low-key. … I think it’s really cool, and they should do it every year.”

The event was also significant for the competitors, as RailJam offers a rare opportunity for experienced skiers and snowboarders to be given the stage in front of their peers.

“These people are pretty athletic and work really hard, and they just don’t get the light of the day because it’s all down the mountain, and we don’t have an event for them on campus,” Bloch said.

With the temperature being nearly 70 degrees during the competition, RailJam being in the springtime was yet another reason it stands out from other on-campus events. 

“Oftentimes, the spring semester is overlooked for big events,” Dietz said. “We’re hoping to bring back that campus spirit and that Ram spirit that people come to college to find.”

Reach McKenna Van Voris at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @mckenna_vv.

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