Keeping it original amongst originals. We are already gearing up for the next Tailgate Alaska event coming up in March for its tenth straight year. For now, just sit back and enjoy what our Alaskan counterparts will be charging throughout the winter.
From Dustin H James, National Partnerships Director, Tailgate Alaska:
Banked slaloms are like opinions these days – everybody has one. In a world full of imitation how does one deviate from the norm? As the coordinator of the Valdez Banked Slalom it's a question I've asked myself a lot.
The proliferation of banked slaloms around the world is not by accident. Snowboarding's soul lies in the turn, grows with the shovel, and maintains itself through the bonds of friendship. The banked slalom lets us all escape from the industry rat race that snowboarding has become and have our own rat race where we, the riders, decide the outcomes of the day. The banked slalom has no office, no marketing director, and should function without "exclusive rights". It's kind of like that old clothing company "FuBu" – it's "for us by us". This is why the banked slalom is here, and here to stay. In an era where the videos and magazines present a world unbeknownst to the recreational rider, the banked slalom presents a world representative of us all.
So, when it comes to throwing a banked slalom do we really need to differentiate to stand out? No. We just need to keep it real for ourselves. Through our own authenticity we shall deviate and evolve. Just ask the winner of this year's Valdez Banked Slalom Darian Draper. He has been working on the oil fields of Alaska for the past 7 years and it has been 8 years since his days as a professional snowboarder. According to Darian, "I got my chi back, I just have that feeling in my gut again. I still officially love to do this. It's a whole hell of a lot of fun to be a snowboarder."
Banked slaloms have a way of leaving everyone involved with gratitude. A true way to say thank you to the sport of snowboarding. So, thank you to the riders who came out that day. Thank you to the people who volunteered their time. Thank you to the companies who donated the prizes. That you to Brian with Vistas Tours for filming. Thank you to Thompson Pass and Alaska for providing us blue skies and the perfect natural terrain for our course.
Second place finisher Morgan Hebert really hit the hammer on the nail when describing the Valdez Banked Slalom, "Most banks are held at resorts because it's easy to use chairlifts, but in Valdez you don't have a chairlift. It's in the backcountry, so you have to shuttle people with sleds, and the logistics are crazy. It takes all these people who are coming to Alaska for the same reason to ride these big mountains, or maybe they're from here, and it takes that shred community and puts them together for a day. It's rad that you can get all those people together for a common cause."
Third place finisher Shin Biyajima could not be reached for comment as he is currently busy basking in the glory of The Fourth Phase – but I'm sure Shin knows where the real glory lies – on the banks of the ditches in Thompson Pass. See you at Tailgate Alaska.