words and captions: Pat Bridges
photos: Mike Yoshida
Despite it being a race, the Legendary Mount Baker Banked Slalom is truly a timeless contest. For twenty-eight years, the Banked Slalom has provided absolution for the sins inherent to the commercialization of modern snowboarding. It is here, below Mt. Shuksen that, our sports faithful gather to reconnect en masse with the purity inherent to surfing the white wave with good friends, both new and old. Sure, there are rivalries and serious aspects to the goings on, but at the end of the day, it is snowboarding as a whole that remains the true winner.
In 2013, there was no denying the presence of the boardercrossers at the Banked, but despite their scientific tuning techniques and purpose-built speed sticks, the event remained anyone's to win or lose. With conditions deemed to be some of the best in the LBS history, the course was a mixture of packed pow, soft-sided berms, dust on crust waves, and brutal berms.
While the Pro category reaps most of the glory, the depth of the divisions is what really makes the Banked Slalom a universal celebration of shredding and speed. Over half a century separates the youngest and oldest competitors and virtually every influential rider of the past three decades can be found in one category or another. The list of legends who showed up in 2013 to truly make this race "Legendary" included Jason Basarich, Jason Loeb, JF Pelchat, DCP, Russell Winfield, Matt Goodwill, Dave Sypniewski, Ami Voutilainen, Pat Abramson, Blue Montgomery, Peter Bauer, Jamie Lynn, Kevin Sansalone, Rob Morrow, Bobbly Meeks, and more. As for the main event, the usual suspects of Terje Haakansen, Temple Cummins, Rob Kingwell, Travis Rice, Nicolas Müller, Curtis Ciszek, Lucas Debari, Wes Makepeace, Scotty Wittlake, Nate Holland, Josh Dirksen, and Bryan Fox were joined by Austin Sweetin, Sammy Luebke, Blair Habenicht, Shayne Pospisil, Wolle Nyvelt, Jason Robinson, Austen Sweetin, Graham Watanabe, Ben Ferguson, Ben Lynch, and none other than Shaun Palmer, who was competing for his first time at Baker since 1995!
For the ladies, it was Maelle Ricker who added yet another LBS title to her resume with a time of 1:37.065, which was nearly three seconds ahead of 2nd place finisher Laura Hadar and more than six seconds faster than Dominique Vallee who finished 3rd.
For the men, two-time Olympic Boardercross gold medalist, Seth Wescott, set a stunning pace on his first run with a time of 1:33.221 to edge out teammate Graham Watanabe by over half a second. Third place went to a well deserving Jason Robinson, who also had a strong showing in the Legendary Baker Banked Handplant contest the day before.
Visit lbs.mtbaker.us for full results.