Most people start snowboarding to add some fun to their cold, somewhat boring, winters. It’s a thrilling activity and a great workout. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and a nice way to get outside. But for some of us it's way more. Why is that? Why do we stay? Why do we continue to set that 5am alarm to get the first chair or travel for days to ride a resort in the rain, fog, and freezing temperatures? We stay for the people. We stay for the community and comradery that has shaped snowboarding since the beginning. We ride in packs, we push each other to improve, we laugh, we party, and we support each other on and off the hill. We keep going to the mountain, no matter the weather, because we have all formed a bond through snowboarding that’s unlike any other. Since 1985, the LBS has been a staple in the community. It’s a time where everyone gets together to celebrate the sport, connect with old friends, meet new friends, and participate in some friendly competition. Without LBS the past two years, and many other events, the snowboard world felt a little empty. Some of us might have left if the event hiatus lasted any longer. But the 35th Legendary Baker Banked Slalom happened this year without a hitch and once again we were reminded of the main reason we are still here. The people.
For those that don’t know, the Legendary Baker Banked Slalom is a snowboard contest held at Mt. Baker Ski Area in Washington State. It has been held annually since 1985 and has been won by some of the biggest names in the history of snowboarding including Tom Sims, Shaun Palmer, Amy Howat, Craig Kelly, Karleen Jeffery, Barrett Christy, Temple Cummins, Marie-France Roy, Maelle Ricker, Seth Westcott, Nils Mindich, and many more. The winners receive a Duct Tape Trophy, a Pendleton Blanket, or an embroidered Carhartt Jacket. And bragging rights for the rest of your life. It is a slalom course through a natural halfpipe off Chair 5. Mt. Baker was one of the few places that allowed snowboarders at the time it first started. This has been an event that has brought together snowboarders since the beginning of the sport. Boarders as young as 8 and as old as 68, race through the course to get the best time in their category. People from all over the world travel to LBS. 3 days of snowboarding on the iconic course, salmon BBQs, live music, and hopefully some pow turns. If you get an invite to this event, you can’t pass it up.
Stefi Luxton and myself traveled from Salt Lake City to attend LBS. We both were in the Pro Women Category with some of the best female snowboarders ever created. We both aren’t super competitive, Stefi even less competitive than me. (Super chill kiwi). But no matter how hard you try to not take the event seriously, you can’t help but get butterflies when you are in the start shack. You get tense and nervous when they call your name to strap in. Before you know it, ‘say your prayers’ is in the rear view mirror and for the next minute or so all you focus on is the next gate in front of you. You only have two chances over the course of two days to get a top time. Make it to finals day. Race two more times on finals day. Oh, and you don't know the last time you get. So you don't know the results until awards.
I overheard a few people say this was the second hardest course in LBS history. It was gnarly, technical, and challenging. Survival mode was the name of the game. Especially on Friday. It was pretty icey and sketchy that first day through the course. They say slow is smooth and smooth is fast but I’m not sure if anyone could be smooth on that course. Turn 5 was the make or break, having to get through not one but two rocks. It took down some heavy competitors each day. Shit was talked, “have fun” and “good luck” were thrown out there, but everyone was secretly hoping that you’d fall on turn 5.
I beat Stefi and everyone else beat me.
The people that put together the event; Duncan, Gwyn, Amy, Britt, Eliah, everyone of the volunteers/staff that make and maintain the course, the lift operators, the admin office, the cooks that made the best food I’ve ever eaten, bartenders, sponsors…everyone that touched the event, killed it. They are kind, welcoming, and badass. Thank you for creating and putting together one of the most celebrated and special events in snowboarding.
PRO WOMEN RESULTS:
1. Tess Critchlow
2. Audrey Hebert
3. Elena Hight
4. Marie-France Roy
6. Mary Rand
PRO MEN RESULTS:
1. Harry Kearney
2. Chase Josey
3. Darcy Sharpe
4. Hagen Kearney
5. Ben Ferguson
6. Austen Sweetin
FULL RESULTS HERE!
- A 15 year old, Anthony Shelly got the fastest time: 1:13.47.
- Amalia "Billie" Pelchat entered Pro Women at age 15 and made it to finals.
- There were two rocks in turn 5. For all those saying “you lost all your speed when you slowed down on that turn”.
- Elena Hight gave me her spot in the switch race and I fell and missed a gate. Three beers is too much to drink before dropping in switch
- Mary Rand won the switch race for women. David Faircolth, a rep, won the switch race and beat Darcy Sharpe.
- Cannon Cummins beat his dad Temple by over one second.
- Scott Stevens made it to finals. He rocked a backwards hat and fell both runs.
- All the locals killed it!
- Stefi met Coon Head and got a selfie.
- The Canadians are overall faster than people in the US
- There was a mosh pit at Chair 9 on Sunday night.
- Some people are way better at waxing than others. You will get called out if you are scrapping like a noob.
- There was a pretty epic powder day on Saturday morning. So it was best to link up with the locals. Shoutout to everyone who took a pow turn on course after they missed a gate.
- If you bring a snow skate and build a drop in, you can have a party anywhere. Even better when Mount Shuksan is the backdrop
- There is no service in Glacier, so sorry about the lack of digital content put out and emails responded too.
PHOTOS BY: TUCKER ADAMS