The Vortex of Cool – Legendary Banked Slalom goes off at Mt. Baker

February 14th, 2012 by

I love one event in snowboarding above all others, The Mt Baker Legendary Banked Slalom. I don’t get to go every year, but I’ve been trying to make sure I'm there since my first Baker experience in 1989. It's really a special event, put on in a special place, by special people.

This year one of the first people I ran in to when I got to the lodge on day one was original Ride snowboards team member Russell Winfield. I hadn’t seen him in years and this was his first trip to the Banked Slalom. Anyhow, by the end of the day he was spinning about how insane each different aspect of the event were having on him. He asked me if he could write something up for the Snowboard Mag site. So, here is what Russell came up with after his first trip to the Mt Baker Banked Slalom. If you have the time you should try to make it up there next year – ED

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LBS women's podium | Photo: Meg Sullivan Haywood | Full gallery

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Words: Russel Winfield

There's only one place where the proverbial stars do align once a year to make a magical weekend. For the past twenty six years in Glacier Washington, Mt. Baker has hosted “The Legendary Banked Slalom.” Here you will find anybody from Terje Håkonson to a nine year old amateur. From Travis Rice to a fifty year old man from the Czech Republic who has won one of the coveted lottery spots. No matter the weather or snow conditions everybody is smiling and happy the entire weekend.

"Fortunately for me I had mastered the art of jedi mind tricks."

Embarrassing as it may be to admit, this was my first experience at the event. The lack of pretension was never more apparent then at the salmon barbecue / hand plant contest. Everybody on the mountain was invited.

Saturday night before the finals I found myself in front of a bar in Glacier for a bit of a party. I am pretty sure that the bar wasn’t ready for traffic jam of people that snaked its way through the parking lot waiting to get in.

Fortunately for me I had mastered the art of jedi mind tricks. A talent that lands me in bars lickity split. The unfortunate thing is… the bar only sold beer. After approximately fifty three point five shakas, an hour of live metal, two cola’s and an unruly short bus driver, I found myself back at the Colorado University house ready for sleep.

I woke to your average grey bird day which was nice because there was no rain. Once in the lodge I scored some Mt Baker Coffee Roasters coffee and headed up the lift. The aroma of Paella danced its way out of the tent in the start area. Pro Masters was running. Timmy and Kurt were were about to take their runs. "Uncle Russ Russ would you mind watching the kids?" Being a father of two I obliged with a smile. (Russell spent about 20 minutes wrestling with the kids in the snow.) Childcare is a fickle animal but I have found that sugar and lots of exercise equals tired kids. Cha-ching… Winning!
 
Watching the Pro men was reminiscent of watching a motocross bike go through a banked chicane wide open. The biggest difference is that a snowboard is not fully suspended. It was really amazing to see a few of the riders rocket out of the of the last turn and over the last two rollers through the finish. The only regret I have is that I have never been to this event before; a snowboard competition in its truest form. The course was only part of the experience. Mt Baker will always have a very special part in my heart.

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