WHEN: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Monument Square, Portland

HOW MUCH: Free to watch

INFO: thedowntownshowdown.com


FOLLOWING THE freestyle thrills at the Downtown Showdown, the city’s WinterRush festival takes place Saturday.

AT 9 A.M., a PolarBear 5K sponsored by Tri-Maine starts from the East End Community School. At noon, Camp Sunshine hosts its annual Maine Polar Plunge at East End Beach.

FROM 11 A.M. TO 3 P.M., family activities take place in Deering Oaks Park, including snow-fort building, snow painting, snowball fights, snowshoeing, geocaching and a scavenger hunt.

ATTENDEES ALSO CAN vote for the best snowman in the Neighborhood Organization Snowman Contest and the best carving in the Maine Snow Sculpting Contest. Free refreshments will be available inside the Deering Oaks Park Castle.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Deering Oaks Park and other locations in Portland


INFO: www.portlandwinterush.com


Staff Writer

Portland has too much snow on the ground and not enough places to put it. But on Friday night, some of the white stuff will be put to good use when the mountains come to the heart of the city for the third annual Downtown Showdown urban rail jam.

An invitation-only competition, the Showdown features 28 skiers and riders who will display their skills and catch some air on a snow-covered stair and rail feature built in Monument Square by the terrain park experts at the Sunday River and Sugarloaf resorts.

Thousands of spectators are expected to crowd the square — and the upper floors of the buildings lining the square — to check out the action, which is accompanied by a bumping DJ track.

“Every year we create some sort of variation,” said Jay Scambio, terrain park development manager for Boyne Resorts (which manages Sugarloaf and Sunday River) and coordinator of the event. “This year, we won’t have a pole jam. Instead, we’ll create a wall ride feature more like a skateboard wall.”

In order to build the freestyle features, the crew from the resorts will erect a scaffolding ramp, add rails and then cover it with 6 to 10 inches of hard-packed snow. The city has been stockpiling snow free of salt and sand specifically for this popular event.

Scambio estimates it will take six to eight truckloads of snow to cover the artificial terrain.

“I think this year we’re going to try and have a little extra snow in the crowd area so the city can make bleachers out of the snow,” Scambio said.

The 28 athletes, many of whom are in high school or college, will compete for more than $4,000 in cash and prizes, including two Oakley Minute Machine watches.

Among the competitors are last year’s winners. In 2010, Jake Hall, a student at Gould Academy, won first place in the snowboard competition and Jeremie Veilleux, who attends Carrabassett Valley Academy, took first in the ski competition.

The other competitors in the snowboard category are Tristan Corriveau, Rob Hallowell, Brendon Rego, Michael Ravelson, Nick Esposito, Jack Alosa, Tanner McCarty, Max Verville, Andrew Kahkonen, Matt Coughlin, Sean Kaulbach and Adam Hohmeyer.

The ski competitors are Richie Paradise, Tyler Shores, Dan Jones, Mark Pomykato, Henry Willetts, Conor Kelly, Andy Blanchard, Mark Spinney, Ted Porter, Robert Bittner, Curtis Bolduc, Chase Brooks and Philip Curll.

“We’re looking at it as opportunity to show people in the city an aspect of our business,” Scambio said. “And the freestyle terrain parks are a flashier part of our business.”

While thousands of spectators gather over the course of the 90-minute competition, many only stay for part of the action.

“Some people come and check it out for 10 minutes and then leave and go to the bar or go to dinner,” Scambio said. “It gives them something to talk about.”

It’s not every day you can see a skier catch air in the middle of the city.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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