On Wednesday 8th March the long awaited, highly anticipated, jewel in the crown of the Lavachet Winter events calendar- TCs Rail Jam- was held at TCs bar in Tignes.
In it’s 17th year, this event has evolved into an all day celebration open to everyone, and people flock from all over the resort to participate and spectate. What is essentially a kicker, a couple of pipes and a rail dug into the snow in front of a bar in Lavachet, has grown into a community focussed gathering, that not only brings people together, but also raises money for a worthy cause.
Many moons ago, about 17 years worth in fact, TC had a regular called Graham Mcvoy (who has since gone on to become a big shot and something to do with the Nike freestyle team) was enjoying a pint and perusing the view through the window. “He just recognised the potential to build a hit out there.” TC told me. “Something to do with the natural gradient of the land.” Well, whatever it was that Graham saw out of the window that day has since evolved into a full on rail jam.
The course itself has developed from one small bench to now quite an impressive kicker
“The first event was a bit Wild West” TC explained. “It wasn’t really an organised event back then. but people who came and saw it were into it and loads of people wanted to have a go, so the following year I thought i’d make it a little bit more official. By the 3rd or 4th year I had Tignes Developpement on board supporting it as an official event in Tignes. The course itself developed from one small bench to now quite an impressive kicker. In true mad TC’s style we still call it a rail jam in honour of its origins.”
The Rail Jam
In the days leading up to the rail jam TC recruited some willing volunteers via his two man staff team to get their sweat on and begin digging some of the immense amounts of snow in front of the bar to create the course. The course consisted of a whiplash inducing kicker, and an alternative route of pipes and a rail. The build was no easy feat given the huge amounts of snowfall we’ve been under in Tignes this past week, so a special thanks goes out to Sam, Jack and their recruits for their hard work in making this possible.
The programme for the day was the relaxed organisation you’d expect if familiar with TC. The practice session began around 2pm, and that’s the same time that the crowd began congregating and extended all the way up the stairs, past SoBar, and all the way down and around the corner in front of event sponsor Tignes Spirit. All in all over the course of the afternoon there were about 200 spectators and 20 or so brave enough to give the run a go. With the music cranked up loud, beer flowing and burgers being flipped by the dozen, it was quite a spectacle having all sorts of tricks being stomped right in front of the crowd like that, not to mention the hilarious (and sometimes quite punishing) bails and fails.
The competition part of the afternoon kicked off around 4.30 with extra special guest judges pro snowboarders james Sweet and Will Hughes. Prizes were handed out as and when the judges deemed an attempt award worthy, and were announced by Marty Sykes over the loud speaker to Whoops and Cheers.
Prizes had been donated by sponsors of the event, Tignes Spirit, Goofy Boardwear, and other local businesses including La Queue de Cochon, Tignes Cuisine, Carrefour, Underground Bar, Jam Bar and SoBar among others, as well as individuals who had donated all sorts of things from a handmade handbag to bottles of wine and even a Christmas pudding! A lot of prizes were awarded during the event itself, and a huge number were kept back for the evening’s raffle. Tickets for the raffle were sold throughout the day, and the draw took place at 7.30pm. Proceeds went to Association Solea, a local charity that raises money for cancer research.
For a lot of seasonnaires and locals, especially those living and working in Lavachet, TC’s annual rail jam is one of the most highly anticipated events of the Tignes Winter calendar. That might sound a little OTT given that TCs is a small bar in a comparatively quiet area of Tignes, but there are several contributing factors that make TCs Rail Jam so special. “It brings everyone together and gives them another free option to continue riding and pushing each other in a fun environment.” TC told me. “It also brings business to our little end of town, and this year we have raised money for a local charity which can bring people together too.” This year TC and the Tignes community together managed to raise 250€ for the chosen charity, Solea.
In the true spirit of TCs rail jam, here is the fail of the day by none other than Neil Dawson.
(The video is a little slow starting, but it’s totally worth the wait…)