The 28th Mt Baker Legendary Banked Slalom: A Snowboard Renaissance
Mt Baker beer garden… and it’s not 1993.
Such was the case at the 28th Mt Baker Legendary Banked Slalom this weekend; a weekend where, nearly three decades down the road, snowboarding seemed to announce that it had come full circle. Terje, Temple and Jamie Lynn were racing. Chris Brunkhart stood atop the course, Leica in hand, and Ox watched the younger guard ride a mini-spine-jump above Saturday’s Salmon barbecue.
The veteran contingent wasn’t just in attendance—they were ripping. Thanks to big December snowfalls, the natural halfpipe adjacent Chair 5 was filled in nicer than it had been for years. While the course ran a little slower than usual, it was riding smooth with no major ice ruts or warning signs—except, of course, the omnipresent “Say Your Prayers” at the start shack.
Indeed, Ullr shined upon Mt Baker on this February weekend. A couple feet of midweek snow had consolidated under cold and clear skies, and Shuksan Arm and Hemispheres were in good condition for those who wanted to mix a few powder laps into their race day preparations. By the time we cracked the doors for the Legendary frequency TSJ party at Chair 9 on Saturday night, many had proven that stepping back from the spotlight doesn’t affect your ability to rip a turn or two—Palmer, Terje, Temple and more were through to Sunday. Wes Makepeace put down his guitar long enough to qualify. And 34-year-old Nate Holland leading the charge for the men and Maelle Ricker atop the Pro Women’s category. The Marcopolous/Brunkhart/Galbraith opus known as The Walrus Dreams rolled on the big screen while Polecat played inside Chair 9, and images of Matt Donahue spinning 60-plus feet off the beast proved that, in the mid-90s, he was going bigger than most everyone in attendance.
So after another bluebird day in the berms was finished, it came as no surprise that the legends held their own versus the legends-in-the-making. In fact, only two riders in the top 10 for Pro Men’s were under 30—Jason Robinson in 3rd and former champ Harry Kearney in 7th—while mid-30s Seth Wescott took the win. The times in Masters category (30-39) were faster than the times in Older Amateurs (20-29) for both the men and women, while Maelle Ricker won her unprecedented 7th banked slalom in the Pro Women’s category. And when Jamie Lynn received the Craig Kelly Thunderbird Award, it was only fitting that so many of his peers were in attendance—veteran riders still at the top of their game.
A huge thanks to the Howats and all of the race day volunteers, Pete Cook at Chair 9, and all who were in attendance. The 28th edition of the LBS may have been proof that snowboarding has matured—it is no longer just the domain of young punks getting weird. Indeed, aging punks like to get weird sometimes too. And with a strong showing from the older guard, it seems we are on the brink of a snowboard renaissance.
The tribe grows stronger with each passing year; we’ll see you all atop Chair 5 in 2014.
Pro Women Masters
Jennica "Fastest Intern Alive" Lowell