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Pre-Season Stoke: Keystone's A51 Rail Series kicks off tomorrow

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Keystone hasn't yet fired up its snow guns in the race to open the first white ribbon of a run for early-season shred, but that's not stopping the mountain from hosting the first rail jam of the season: The A51 River Run Rail Series kicks off tomorrow, September 15 -- if you can believe it -- with a new Backyard BBQ Rail Session for skiers and snowboarders.

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"We're bringing in ten tons of double-frozen, ice-chipped snow that should ride like good, slushy spring snow," says Keystone Resort spokeswoman Tucker Burton. "We got a dusting of the real stuff the other night and it's been getting chilly in the mornings up here, so we're getting pretty excited: Winter's almost here."

The event is the first in a new series that will continue with the Back to the Grind Session on November 3 (the first official day of the season) and conclude with a closing weekend event on April 6, 2013.

The Backyard BBQ Rail Session will be held at the base of the resort's River Run on a multi-feature stair setup with a pole jam and two straight rails, Burton says. Prizes for the top riders include a Summit Epic Pass and free entry to the TransWorld TransAm at Keystone (for snowboarders) or Breck's Freestyle at Breckenridge (for skiers). There are also prizes for spectators, including season-pass giveaways, GoPro WiFi Backpack camera setups and swag from local companies, including Never Summer and Fat-ypus, which will be on-site showing off their 2012-2013 gear.

"We're giving away a ton of cool stuff," says Burton. "You should see my office: it's a disaster with all the swag everywhere. It's like a swag bomb went off in here."

Registration for the rail jam is $15 at Athlete check-in starts at 9 a.m.; preliminary rounds will start at 11 a.m., with finals starting at 2:45 p.m. And fair warning: this event will also be your last opportunity to purchase Epic pass products at the pre-season price.

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