The 29th Annual Legendary Baker Banked Slalom: This is Snowboarding

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Photos: Tim Peare, Susie Floros, Colin D. Watt

Our Photo Editor, Tim Peare, and I had credentials and lodging lined up for the Sochi Olympics and decided not to go. The 5-ring circus that happens once every four years happened to coincide with the best event in snowboarding: The Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom. The choice was clear.

This was my 3rd Legendary Baker Banked Slalom experience and though I didn’t have a spot to ride this time, the event was as fun as I remembered. This is a snowboarder’s contest. Far away from the chaos of mainstream snowboarding events, it’s an even playing field. In what other contest in snowboarding can an entire family compete on the same exact course? Where else can an unknown rider qualify for finals and Rider of The Year, Gigi Rüf, get DQ’d? The beauty of this event is its authenticity and simplicity: just a rider, a course, a clock, good people, amazing food, and one of the most fun mountains in the world to ride. Amateurs, masters and pros all run the same course and when all is said and done the fastest riders to survive and stay within the gates win. And by “win,” I mean they take home a coveted duct tape trophy, embroidered Carhartt jacket, a Pendleton blanket and above-all respect from their fellow riders. Take one look at the list of names in the event’s history and you’ll understand.

CAPiTA President, Blue Montgomery, took 2nd in the Pro Masters category with a time of 1:56.95. PHOTO: Tim Peare

CAPiTA President, Blue Montgomery, took 2nd in the Pro Masters category with a time of 1:56.95. PHOTO: Tim Peare

“It’s the real deal,” says Mt Baker’s Gwyn Howat who’s been organizing and running this event for 27 years. “We knew early on it would never be a pro exclusive event because we always needed to feed the sport and we needed to keep people excited and keep competition attainable for all levels of enthusiasts within the industry. And that’s a big deal right now. I don’t know too many sporting events in the world where a 10-year-old kid can compete on the exact same course as an Olympic athlete the same day and both be challenged and both successfully completed. And that to me is a benefit to the industry.”

The course was the most challenging one to date and nothing like the banked powder turns riders got to enjoy last year, but the riders handled it and I heard zero complaints.

“Last year was the best course,” said Howat. “This year’s character is the gnarliest course! We’re lucky we’re here because 3 weeks ago we didn’t have the snow to do the natural halfpipe,” Howat added.

325 competitors were lucky enough to race in this year’s Banked Slalom. “We had 1100 entrants for 100 lottery spots in this year’s race,” Howat said. “There were some previous Olympians who did not get in the race this year, simply because I can only run so many people in a day. If I just had open-entry this race in a given weekend would have 2500-3000 competitors.”

20-year-old Colorado local Harry Kearney won with the fastest time 1:43.35 beating out every single rider including our icons. Harry won the same division in 2011 when he was just 17-years-old. Marie-France Roy won it for the pro ladies, with a 2:00.78 time. Maelle Ricker had been the reigning Pro Women champ for seven years prior! She was at the other big contest in Russia happening the same weekend.

Pat Abramson, aka DJ Pat A, won Pro Men Masters division with a 1:50.48 time. CAPiTA’s Blue Montgomery took 2nd fractions of a point away with a 1:50.71. Marni Yamada won the Pro Women Masters with a 2:02.64 time. 11-year-old Jaydn Chomlack won the Next Generation division with a 2:07.76 time. 15-year-old Hank Kennedy won the Juniors category with a time of 1:54.02. Jacob Krugmire won the Younger Amateurs division with a 1:57.66 time. 26-year-old Spencer Cordovano won the Older Amateurs division with a 1:51.20 time. Martina Nemcova won Women Amateurs with a 2:03.42 time. Kelly Edmonds won Women Masters with a 2:09.33 time. Scott Reynolds won Masters with a 1:51.67 time. Tim Gallagher won Mid-Masters with a 1:58.35 time. 50-year-old Jay Moore won Grand Masters with a 2:01.01 time.

The Debaris won the annual Legend Award presented by Jamie Lynn. Temple Cummins broke a tooth when his face hit a gate. Terje won the Banked Slalom switch, wearing a backpack, in the infamous Fakie Race.

This Is Snowboarding.

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