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Benny Milam, Maggie Leon Win First Red Bull Heavy Metal Street Snowboarding Contest Since 2003

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 17, 2022

Many street and urban snowboarders don’t compete in contests—and there aren’t even many options out there in a halfpipe and slopestyle dominated world.

But even street riders who choose to make their living filming video parts rather than competing have always felt a kinship with Red Bull Heavy Metal, a classic snowboarding event that shines a spotlight on the obstacles and lines that are at the center of street snowboarders’ careers.

Last held in 2003 in Duluth, Minnesota, Red Bull Heavy Metal celebrates elite street riding in a rail-heavy setting that many Midwest riders, including Minnesota’s own Benny Milam, have learned to dominate in the absence of big mountain terrain.

The rail jam-styled contest, which is free to the public, is much more intimate than a halfpipe or slopestyle event.

As Red Bull rider Milam, who helmed the event with his sponsor, explained, when you watch a jump contest, you just see the landing. In street rail jams, viewers watch the development of the entire trick from setup to execution to landing.

“It’s easier for the viewers to understand,” Milam told me by phone. Street rail jams have fallen off in recent years; to wit, Red Bull Heavy Metal was on hiatus for 19 years. “I definitely think there will be more street rail jams like this,” Milam added. “It gets people stoked on the rail jam aspect. It’s a good way to watch snowboarding.”

Minnesota native and competition director Joe Sexton said that Heavy Metal “brings riders who were not traditionally contest riders to the event.” In so doing, it “showcases a different side of snowboarding.”

In what the event’s commentators called “snowboarding meets parkour,” this year’s Red Bull Heavy Metal, once again held at Cascade Park in Duluth, featured three zones: “The Tower Zone” with the contest’s biggest jumps and airtime, including a 20-foot drop; “The Playground Zone,” the contest’s most technical zone, with down bars, transfers, trees and tables, and “The Metal,” centered around a set of 30 stairs with a center kink rail and closeout handrails, as well as a sizable gap.

Riders included 40 of the biggest names in street snowboarding: Milam, Zeb Powell, Lexi Roland, Miles Fallon, Zak Hale, Maggie Leon, Nora Beck, Savannah Shinske, Draydon Gardner, Blake Lamb, Danyale Patterson, Ryan Paul, Ben Bilodeau, Gracie Warner and more.

Roland, also from Minnesota, was the 2021 Dew Tour women’s streetstyle winner in December. Milam won the Dew Tour event among the men.

“The Metal” portion of the event, which began at 4 p.m. CT, was extended by about a half hour as the riders got dialed and made their best tries. It was fitting that Milam took the win for the men, while Maggie Leon, a street rider who also works as an engineer for Burton Snowboards, won for the women.

With the clock ticking down, Milam got in his final attempts for the big trick he was going for all night: a Cab 270 down the length of the kink rail that blew the minds of everyone in attendance and tuning in via live stream. He never quite stomped it, but it’s a safe bet he’ll soon be putting out a clip soon of him conquering those stairs.

“I wish I would have got it, but that’s the way it goes. Now I can come back and film it,” Milam told me over the phone with a laugh.

The notable tricks Milam did put down included a regular and switch lipslide through the kink rail, a switch backside 270 on the down bar and a switch underflip out of the tower.

Leon stood out among the 11 women in the field as she aired out of the tower, did a layback on the barrier in the playground section and hit the creeper ledge at the Cascade kink.

Commentators called Zeb Powell, who finished in second among the men and channeled snowboarding legend Mikey Leblanc with his switch ollie down the full 30 -stair set, the “most exciting man on a board” as he continued to push the limits of street snowboarding.

“In my opinion, snowboarding needed this,” Leon said. “It’s refreshing and different. Rail jams have existed for awhile, but they’re kind of getting cut left and right. Showcasing street snowboarding at a really famous rail with a lot of incredible snowboarders just goes to show that the general public will understand what we do. With a video recap and the amount of reach Red Bull has, people are going to understand.”

Milam and Leon walked away with a cool $5,000 each, while second-place finishers earned $3,000 and third-place finishers, $1,000 of the total $20,000 prize purse. But the contest was about so much more than cash prizes or best tricks. In many ways, it’s developing the next generation of snowboarders.

“I think this type of event gets kids stoked on street snowboarding. The kids who were all here today watching got a good sense of what street snowboarding is, like nonstop madness in a contest setting,” Milam said. “I hope we inspired a lot of kids today, to keep them coming back and keep the sport of snowboarding growing.”

“I’m really hoping we can bring this contest back next year and keep it going,” Milam added. “That was a blast.”

Red Bull Heavy Metal 2022 Results

Men’s Results:

1st place: Benny Milam

2nd place: Mary Vachon

3rd place: Zeb Powell


Women’s Results:

1st place: Maggie Leon

2nd place: Jaylen Hanson

3rd place: Lexi Roland


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