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Biggie Smalls once said, “being broke and 30 give a nigga the chills,” so it’s no surprise that pushing 30, the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom is starting to show its age. Just like snowboarding and the people who grew up doing it, the event is turning into a real grown up, and 2013 was by far the most polished and slick Banked Slalom I’ve ever been to. There were incredible custom Lib Tech snowboards and surfboards for prizes, arm bands and special access for the cool photographers, and an actual WiFi network. (Trust me, this is HUGE.) Hell, even we teamed up with Zumiez to give away two slots (which happened to go to Fuck Boyz Paul “Bagels” Stanley and Bo Valencia, fair and square.) Times they are a changin.’
Now don’t read that as a complaint or statement about the “good old days.” Since my first Banked Slalom was in 2001, I’m by no means qualified to talk about those. In fact, when I expressed confusion about the new base lodge and higher food prices, Jeff Galbraith, who’s been riding Mt. Baker since 1985 just said, “Man, I’m still getting used to the old new lodge!”
And that’s the magic of the Banked Slalom. For one weekend, everyone who makes snowboarding rad gathers in one place. If you have ever said, “I would love to go to the Baked Banked Slalom” you’ll fit right in to the “B.S. bubble™” that creates itself each year — a micro-chasm of the snowboard community. At the top of the course, the snowboard industry heads trade tales of how many events they’ve been to, how it’s still cool to get a photo with Terje, and how incredibly amazing the backcountry was on Friday. Meanwhile, just outside the fence, ski racers and randoms ask “What’s going on?” while the course is shut down for a solid 10 minutes to rebuild the turn Shaun Palmer destroyed when he blew out of it. At that point, The Tranny Finders, or Fuck Boyz, as I guess they’re called now, take high speed laps, dodging joeys, spraying the shit out of each other and hitting the endless natural jumps that make Baker so fun. And while I didn’t witness this, a few grumpy locals bitch as they trudge up the extra-worn backcountry bootpacks, waiting for the circus to leave town so they can just go back to just being bitter that they live in Glacier. There’s really something for everyone.
The LBS is arguably more about the scene than anything else, but it is still a competition and accordingly, some people still care about results. In fact, everyone who’s lucky enough to get a slot does. No one wants to blow out on their run, and everyone wants to say they beat Terje (who, in the raddest show of the weekend, fell at the top of his second run and just blasted the pow all the way down instead.) Getting down to specifics for a minute — This year, the boardercross contingent showed up with its wax techs and need for speed that tops Olympic podiums. The truth is, that shit works. Seth Wescott dominated all weekend and Graham Watanabe took second, while Jason Robinson, with no training or wax tech earned the bronze roll of duct tape. Speaking of boardcross skills, Maelle Ricker, topped the women’s field by 3 seconds. No gender or drug testing needed, she’s just that fast. Laura Hadar and Dominique Vallee rounded out the pro women’s field.
There are also 15 other divisions (give or take) and if you want full results, they’re right here: http://yobeat.com/2013/02/10/2013-mt-baker-banked-slalom-results/
Or, if you want a revisionist history lesson, I got nostalgic and found all past Yobeat Coverage:
2003 (I think I had to go to X Games or something)
2005 (I lived in Burlington)
2006 (Who knows)
2007 I think was in Florida, or Tahoe. Somewhere sunny, anyway.
2008 Didn’t go, but Zimmerman did
2011 Missed it due to illness — covered it anyway. http://yobeat.com/2011/02/14/2011-mt-baker-banked-slalom-coverage-fail/
2012 I took photos, Jared made a video http://yobeat.com/2012/02/13/2012-legendary-banked-slalom-video/ and it was Stan’s first http://yobeat.com/2012/02/13/banked-bitches/
Which brings us back to the present and reminds me of the secondary event on Saturday night, the Lib Tech Banked Handplant contest. Krush and the boys at Lib Tech built a mound of snow and let anyone who wanted to ride it. An injured Garrett Read already managed to put together a video of it:
So that’s about it. Until the next Banked Slalom (which let’s face it, might not be as legendary, but it probably going down soon at a mountain near you) hopefully we’ll see you there.