Last Ditch Effort—Banked Slalom at Crystal Mountain
words: Josh Thompson
Earlier this month, the 3rd annual Last Ditch Effort banked slalom event was held at Crystal Mountain in Washington State. The race is the brainchild of Blair Habenicht. Photographer Josh Thompson reached out to Blair to get the back story on the event and caught him at the Anchorage airport, on his way to slay Valdez.
"Crystal mountain is my home mountain and I really noticed a lack of snowboard presence there my whole life… so about three years ago I said, ok, let's bring a snowboard only event here. It's a great mountain and I'd like to share it with people. I thought back to the last snowboard event before that and it was a boardercross and I was 15!"—Blair Habenicht
Three years ago Blair approached Crystal Mountain with the idea of having a banked slalom and they were all for it. So he put together a crew, gathered the sponsors and built the course. It turned out to be a huge success. The following year, due to a hiccup with the previous owners of Crystal, the event was held at Alpental. "It went gangbusters again… I really appreciate Alpental doing that. It's kind of my second home mountain I always felt like. Crystal really is my home mountain, it's where I spend most of my time."
This year Crystal was sold to Alterra Mountain Company. "Alterra is so much more progressive and supportive of snowboarding… marketing called me up and said 'Hey, we'd like to have it back and so I said ‘ok’. That's where I wanted to have it in the first place."
There's a 150-person cap on the race so you need to be fast on the draw if you want to get in next year. "All men's categories and woman's am categories all sold out this year in 18 mins online and the rest of it sold out within 24 hours."
As a spectator, the course looked gnarly with fencing on quite a few of the berms to keep riders from getting ejected off the course. Although I witnessed some entertaining carnage and highflying aerobatics, at the end of the day, no one spent any serious time in the hospital. The weather was not your typical springtime sunshine, there were no guns or buns out… in fact, it snowed all day. It didn't deter many though—out of 150 spots, only 6 weren't able to make it. Good times were had by all and we are looking forward to next year’s Last Ditch Effort!
Pro Men – Contreras, Che, 51.002
Pro Women – Vernon, Zoe, 57.288
Am Men – Nolan, Kevin, 54.035
Am Women – Stoutenburgh, Brianna 1:017
Masters Men – Hayes, Monte, 53.462
Masters Women – Lauderdale, Roseanne, 1:05.912
Grands (50+) – Ferrel, Paul, 56.163
Teen Boys (13-17) – Mac, Milo, 51.035
Teen Girls (13-17) – West, Ariah, 1:02.965
Groms (8-12)- Knox, Jade, 1:03.836
Snowskate Open – Diamond, Michael, 1:48.726