Words: T. Bird
Photos: Jeff Hawe
While Cypress Mountain hurriedly trucked in snow and scrambled to assemble enough scaffolding to accommodate the however many thousands of spectators for the Vancouver Olympics, Baker locals cracked a beer and lined the fences of the 25th annual Legendary Banked Slalom. Every year, Gwyn and Amy Howat (the women in the spotlight in regard to all things Baker) put on a show like no other and for 25 years now, it is the one contest in snowboarding that grows exponentially in legitimacy while showcasing the skill of the simple act of riding a snowboard without ever really leaving the ground. Yes, there's an old joke stating that the only thing considered "slow" about snowboard racing is its death (which is really funny when in the right context), however, the Baker Banked is not to be considered just a mere "race." It is the only event in the history of snowboarding (some may say in the history of sport, actually) in which a 10 year old, a 70 year old and some of the best 20 or 30 something year old snowboarders on earth can test their mettle on the exact same setup. Think about it. Gwyn actually said that during the awards ceremony and thankfully, I wrote it down to use later. I don't remember the last time that I wrote anything down that Pat Parnell said. Case in point.
The three days at Baker were a mixture of different weather patterns, each changing seemingly by the hour, but no one really cared. It had been just about a full year since many competitors and spectators alike had seen each other and they spent time before their runs and in between heats talking over a hot plate of smoked salmon and a cup of cider. Riders like Josh Dirksen, Bryan Fox, Temple Cummins, DCP, Tom Burt, Barrett Christy, Zach Leach, Rob Kingwill, Forest Bailey, Shayne Pospisil, Maelle Ricker, Lucas Debari, Matt Edgers, Megan Pischke, Blair Habenicht, Scotty Wittlake, Curtis Ciszek, Tucker Andrews, Jason and Aaron Robinson, Maria Debari and many more showed up to win this year, as well as almost all of the local Baker crowd, who, in my opinion, are some of the best people in any mountain town I've ever had the pleasure of acquainting myself with. Personally, I was pulling for one of those dudes to take the win. With all due respect to the boardercross crowd, I like going to Baker and seeing someone with a natural ability to ride that course take home the golden duct tape trophy. Call it ignorant if you will, but I'm not down with those who spend hours in the gym every day cramming a medicine ball into their guts and measuring their heart rate winning the Baker Banked. It's just not what it represents to me. Regardless, at the end of the three days, the crowd packed into the lodge to hear the final tally, and they got what they came for.
Gig Harbor, Washington's Temple Cummins edged out Squamish, BC’s Rob Fagan and Pat Holland (brother of 2009 champ and five-time X Games gold medalist Nate Holland) for his 4th title (only Terje has won more Baker Banked titles with 5 wins), and the lodge filled with applause and shook with excitement. I won't lie, I was on the edge of my seat and when Temple's name was announced, I somehow chalked up another one for snowboarding. (For the record, I have no idea what that last sentence meant. I just felt that way.) I guess I was just relieved to hear that Temple won again, because, well, Temple's a legend. He's an integral figure in snowboarding, and not just in the Northwest, and the people up there have as much pride in their locals placing in the Banked Slalom as Boston does its coveted Red Sox. I guess people just like to see one of their own win, and Temple is most definitely one of their own in Baker.
The rest of the podiums were announced with Maelle Ricker taking the win for the women with Marni Yamada in second and Glacier, WA's own Maria Debari. The rest of the results are listed below, and you can be sure that there's an exclusive video being edited right now that will be on snowboardermag.com shortly, so remember to check back for all the highlights of the 25th annual Legendary Banked Slalom from Mt. Baker, Washington.
2010 Baker Banked Slalom Results:
25th Annual Legendary Baker Banked Slalom
1. Temple Cummins
2. Rob Fagan
3. Pat Holland
1. Maelle Ricker
2. Marni Yamada
3. Maria Debari
For all the final results from all of the categories, go to www.mtbaker.us. Special thanks to Pete, Annette, Pos, Zach, G. Trevor and the entire Lib Tech family, Lucas Debari, Blair Habenicht, Matt Edgers and all the local Baker riders, Graham’s bar, Milano’s restaurant, The Mt. Baker Snowboard Shop, the Howats and all of the Baker Banked workers for putting on the best “contest” in snowboarding, and the cop who hassled us for walking down the road with a beer but only gave one member of our group a small citation. See you all next year.