The Legendary Baker Banked Slalom is about community. It's about snowboarding. Each year, I walk away with meeting the raddest people. New friends for life. This year was no exception. I got on a chairlift with a father and his 12-year-old daughter, who had been travelling around for the past month, riding blower pow and hitting up Banked Slalom contests. From Lost Trail, Montana for the A-Rob Smashlife to the Baldy Banked in Sun Valley, Idaho, and now in Baker for the LBS, this father-daughter team was on fire. I asked her how she was doing; she shrugged and said, "OK". "Don't be so modest," her dad said, laughing. Turns out she won in her category at A-Rob, and both she and old pops got third in their categories at The Baldy Banked. Hers being PRO women, no big deal. Blown away, I asked her if she knew that she was on a trip of a lifetime. "Thank your dad one day for being so cool," I told her. Later on that day, I saw my new friend standing on stage with a silver duct tape trophy finishing second behind Canada's little Wild Kitten Juliette Pelchat in the junior girls category. I couldn't help but think back to the year that Spencer O'Brien, her sister Meghann, and their dad Brian had all podiumed, and here I was looking at the next generation of kids. Image in five, ten years? Imagine the day when these kids are racing against their parents? The day Terje, Temple and Dirksen are in a racing in a category of 80-year-old PRO snowboarders?
Every snowboarder needs to experience LBS in their lifetime. I can't say that enough. It's truly what snowboarding is really all about, seeing old friends, making new ones, and having a good time while being at a contest. Well, it isn't really isn't a contest, but holds the same clout as a one. It hit me when ten of us were packed into a friends RV in the parking lot watching the Women's Slopestyle at the Olympics, and the women were struggling in windy conditions. Nobody could believe they were running the women's slope while those girls were getting blown sideways. They were not able to put down their best runs. It was not what snowboarding was all about. At LBS, regardless of poor weather conditions, low viz, or how gnarly the course might be, snowboarders congregate every year to race down banked corners for duct tape trophies. If Gwyn Howat and the Mount Baker race crew are out building a course with chainsaws and ice picks, or when the wind is blowing sideways and the snow is pounding down, and the course is sheer ice or rutted out, nobody complains. The stoke gets stronger.
Snowboarding is a small community. We respect each other. And we salute the up-and-comers, the unknowns, and the unsponsored rider who can slash and burn turns. It was awesome to see Rube Goldberg take third in Men’s Pro Masters. He didn't even believe he was in the top three when he went up there. He was like, "Who me?" And Gwyn said, "Yup you," and threw a LBS tagged Pendleton Blanket over him. Vanessa Stark painted the artwork for the posters and the hoodies this year. And what makes this even more awesome, Vanessa donated the original painting to be auctioned off for Boarding for Breast Cancer. Guess who had the highest bid? Wait for it, wait for it... Mount Baker. Duncan Howat, Baker’s general magnager, and his daughter Gwyn decided it would be most appropriate to donate to B4BC, so they could hang Nessy's painting in The Raven's Lodge for all of us to enjoy. How amazing is that?! Big shout out to Whistler's Sara Niblock for taking second in the Women's Pro category. “Who's this Sara?” you might ask. Oh, you know, just some unknown rad chick that works at the Meadow Park Gym in Whistler, who obviously knows how to throw her board around. It must feel pretty amazing would that feel to stand up there among some of the best female snowboarders to ever come out of Canada: Leanne Pelosi, Marie-France Roy, Karleen Jeffries, and Helen Schettini. Simply put, this is what makes the Legendary Banked Slalom, well, legendary.