The Legendary Banked Slalom at Mt. Baker is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) snowboard competitions still happening on an annual basis. There’s good reason too: It’s a damn good time! Excellent hospitality for the competitors seems to be one of the most important parts to the LBS Crew. Smoked salmon fins, soups, hot beverages, Red Balls, cookies, etc. are all at the top of the natural half pipe course for the racers to enjoy before their runs. On the Saturday, there’s a Banked Slalom Baked Salmon feed for the competitors and anyone else in the area. The competitors include everyone from up-and-coming groms and your friends mom and dad, to snowboarding legends like Terje Haakonsen and Tom Burt. The race itself is down a “natural half pipe,” basically a gully, with gates placed around the deep berms that have been dug in. Strong legs are a must, as the course is generally around one minute thirty seconds of thigh burning ruts and pulling some g-forces around turns. Last year there were even some rocks and roots sticking out of the berms. Sounds fun, right? Unfortunately, the hardest part of the event is getting in to it; many hundreds of people apply for entry through the open lottery, but only 95 or so will be allowed to participate. Other ways to get in include sponsoring the event (that means buying your way in), doing well the previous year, qualifying in the Local’s Qualifier if you live in the Mt. Baker area or have a pass there, not having your name picked in the open lottery so many times that it finally gets picked (seniority is given to those who have tried many years in a row and haven’t made it in), or getting picked by the race organizers if there happens to be an extra spot available.
Photo by, correctclothing.blogspot.com Prizes for those who are lucky enough to compete, and have really fast times do not include cash like most other events; instead they get gear from all the sponsors, Duct Tape trophies for the top 3, and really cool local art work (painted surf boards, hand made guitars, etc). Even if you don’t manage to get in to the event, it’s still a really fun time, and it seems like they almost always get lots of snow LBS weekend. The lottery deadline is November 11th, so get your application in quick! For more information and applications, go to Mt. Baker’s website. Side note: I’ve heard rumors that skiers can do it if they do it McConkey style, aka naked.