words: Mary Walsh
photos: Mike Yoshida and Mary Walsh
captions: Pat Bridges (and crew)

Early Thursday morning, rain was cascading from the sky over the hamlet of Glacier, Washington, but on the drive up the access road to Mt. Baker, there was a particular corner where the water droplets turned into white flakes–albeit waterlogged ones–hurtling down onto the windshields of the cars making their way to the mountain. The thermometer was toying with the freezing mark and at eight am, as locals and visitors alike shuffled out of cars, slid into boots, and walked through slush to the Mt. Baker lodge. After a year’s hiatus in 2015 due to an incredibly dry winter, it was finally the first day of qualifying for the 30th Annual Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom.

There are few, if any, traditions in snowboarding that have transcended the boundaries of location and the test of time in the way that Mt. Baker’s banked slalom course has done over the past three decades. No other weekend captivates the entirety of the snowboard community in the way that the LBS is able, drawing riders from closeby in the Pacific Northwest, as well as travelers from around the world who make the trek to Baker each and every year. Local rippers, knee-high grommets, halfpipe wizards, rail slayers, and of course, the very legends that make up the stories of our sport all flatbase the line within the start shack at the top of the course with equally palpable excitement, apprehension, and awe.

On Thursday, February 18th, the 2016 edition of the LBS fired up on an archetypal Washington day: low hanging clouds obscured visibility, wet precipitation stuck to pants and covered goggles, soggy cold threatened to creep into mittens and gloves and outside the fence and gated turns, Mother Nature kept serving up free, heavy refills. To say that the banked course was challenging would be an understatement. Two minutes-plus of turning in difficult-to-see weather is far from easy, but the turning task was enthusiastically accepted and humbly appreciated by each and every person with a paper number duct taped to their leg. Plus, Friday is a second chance for anyone who didn’t yet make it into finals.

Over the next four days, stay tuned to Snowboarder.com, @snowboardermag on Instagram and snowboardermag on Snapchat in order to enjoy the LBS vicariously from afar, or to relive what went down that day if you’re in Glacier (and can find wifi). For now, here are the top finishers from Thursday’s qualifiers who are advancing to Sunday. Check out the LBS website for the full Thursday results.

PRO MEN
1st – Josh Dirksen – 2:11.78
2nd – David Carrier-Porcheron – 2:14.89
3rd – Pat Holland – 2:15.36
4th – Tom Velisek – 2:15.60
5th – Temple Cummins – 2:16.11
6th – Lucas DeBari – 2:16.56
7th – Rob Fagan – 2:16.63
8th – Bryan Fox – 2:16.80
9th – Madison Ellsworth – 2:17.20
10th – Taylor Carlton – 2:17.87

PRO WOMEN
1st – Lindsey Jacobellis – 2:21.78
2nd – Dominique Vallee – 2:22.47
3rd – Elena Hight – 2:25.25
4th – Laura Hadar – 2:25.50
5th – Spencer O’Brien – 2:27.49