29th Annual Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom Friday Qualifiers
All contests are not created equal. The Mt. Baker Banked Slalom is a prime example of this. There is a lot more to it than just being a contest about who can post the fastest times. It is also an annual gathering, heavily steeped in tradition, that is a celebration and a remembrance of what snowboarding is really all about in its purest and simplest form. It celebrates the art of carving and board riding which hopefully was the first thing we all learned to do on a snowboard. It’s also about friendships, and good times, and high fives. For 29 years the snowboard industry has been descending on Mt. Baker on a chosen weekend in late January to early February to remember this. It is a chance for the worlds best pros to step back from their high stress, busy schedules and unwind a little. It is a chance for anyone from the local up and comer, to the has been and the never was, to pit themselves in the trenches alongside the worlds best. But most importantly it is a time to just ride your snowboard plain and simply and if all goes well hopefully go fast in the process.
The course at the LBS is ever changing and always has an interesting twist to it. The 29th LBS is no exception. The course this year breaks the mold on tradition. The start shack has been placed at the top of chair 8 with the course running the rope line down to the top of chair 5 before diving under a man made bridge and entering into the area of the traditional course that runs down the natural halfpipe. Once into the natural pipe the course runs to a finish line just at the natural pipe’s exit point onto nosedive. Given the lack of snow this winter the course design required a lot of elbow grease. Some of the banked corners in the natural pipe where built in an Eskimo like iglooish manner. The course workers physically had to saw blocks out of the snow and stack them shoulder high to form the structures. All the work put in has shown and the course turned out great. The course for the 29th LBS is a screamer albeit a little icy in sections.
As for the racing, some fast times were put down yesterday and the usual suspects have shown their faces at the top of the leaderboard. The fastest time of the day for the men was a 1:43.56 put down by Harry Kearney with Terje, Temple, Debari and company hot on his heals. For the women it was Naoko Araki coming all the way from Japan and putting down a 2:00.32. It’s shaping up to be another amazing final come Sunday. Stay tuned for a full write up from the trenches by Dan Manning and for full results on all the racing action check Mt.Baker’s Website.