2014 Mt. Baker Legenday Banked Slalom
The 2014 Legendary Banked Slalom went down recently up at Mt. Baker Ski area in what turned out to be one of the more unusual years the event has ever seen. It’s been running for 29 consecutive seasons, making it nearly the oldest snowboarding event in the world. While racing in snowboarding isn’t generally considered a “core” type of event, the LBS is truly the at the heart of the sport as the race has been won by legends since it’s inception. In fact, winning the highly coveted gold duct tape is often considered to vault the winner into instant legend status.
Due to an unusually low snow pack, Gwyn Howat who runs the race had to make a last minute decision to change the course starting location from the top of chair 5 to the top of chair 8. This in turn changed the course from its usual mid 30 banked turns up to a leg burning mid 50 banked turns. Because of the new start location, it left the course running right across the exit of chair 5, so race organizers decided to build a bridge over the race course so that the spectators could view the riders flying through the freshly built “tunnel”. To further add to the difficulty, the recent snowfall had been minimal at best, so racers were left with what can only be described as an icy, fast, and edge control demanding course that at times left even the most accomplished pro rider on their ass and off the course.
In spite of the difficulties, there were a few riders that managed to put up some great times in qualifying. Between Friday and Saturday qualifying, the top pro men’s riders were Terje, Josh Dirksen, Blair Habenicht, Harry Kearney, Lucas DeBari, Temple Cummins, Todd Kirby, and Mads Jonsson. For the pro men’s masters Marcel Dolak, Todd Schlosser, Jonthan Martens, Billy Anderson, Cory Smith, Blue Montgomery, and Pat Abramson led the pack. Then Sunday came around for the finals and the weather changed dramatically. It was snowing all day and the visibility was pretty poor. Unfortunately for the riders, the fresh snowfall just made the course even more unpredictable as it was soft in some spots and icy in others. The change in conditions dramatically slowed the times down and tightened up the pack. For the pro men, 20 year old Harry Kearney won his second LBS gold duct tape in the last 3 years, putting him in elite company as only Shaun Palmer, Craig Kelly, Terje Hakonsen, Rob Morrow, and Temple Cummins have won more than one pro men’s titles. For the pro women, Maelle Ricker had won the title for the last 6 years but had to sit it out with an injury. This left the field open to crown a new winner and Quebec’s Marie France-Roy took home the gold duct tape followed up by Dominique Vallee and Naoko Araki for silver and bronze respectively.
Most people might not understand the reason to use duct tape as the award as it is not a typical prize. It is however not a typical event as the goal is about fun and snowboarding with your friends. For those that do win the coveted duct tape, the respect of their peers is the greatest prize of all.