You get to line up on the same course as snowboarding's legends, hero's, celebrities, young guns and regular dudes and run the same course that they do, as well as shit your pants, stress, talk wax, strategy, ask for tips, give tips, laugh, drink Session beers, hi5, and celebrate for 3 awesome days at the mountain that's situated at the end of the highway. It's like highway 522 is a rainbow and the Banked Slalom is the pot of gold waiting for you to take home.
This year was my 7th year running the course as well as Milo's 5th and Mac's 2nd. Needless to say, doing this event with your spawn is one of them moments in life that you go "fuck yea dude, THIS is pretty special." It's even more special when you all make the main event on Sunday.
I got back from my shit storm at SIA on Tuesday night, had a day in the office then packed the rig with the Terror Squad and headed to Baker on Thursday morning. A quick stop at Mt. Baker Reality and got the keys to our condo at Snow Water, changed and was on the hill by 11:15AM. Warm up laps ensued as well as a course inspection told us that for the 29th running of this event, that this one was gonna be a tough fucker to get thru.
We were now starting at the top of the hill, which was actually the funnest section, then moved down to the natural gully where we usually started and then finished at the end of then ditch. From natural gully down, was double gnar gnar as the snow was as hard as a high school kids pecker upon first discovering YouPorn. The corners were man made berms that you didn't carve around, instead you skidded into, then got slammed out of. Instead of the usual 34 turns that the slalom usually has, this year there was 50 something. Now I'm no mathematician, but that's one hell of an increase in turning.
At 4PM we got to "test" the course out. Gwen Howat told everyone that she wanted to see how the course would run so she wanted us to go 75% thru the thing. Milo went first, then Mac, then me. It was your typical NW grey bird and I couldn't see shit, nor could I catch Mac, nor could I link turns down this thing. This gave me anxioty like you wouldn't believe.
Friday morning, I was awoken to Logic and Frank at 8:15AM, when I set my alarm at 6AM. This set my Friday on it's ass as Milo takes a bit to get ready and it was now scramble mode. Mac needs his time to fuck with Milo and I need to lather up with my Ibuprofen gel so I'm numb to the feeling of all the chatter on the hill. None of the above would go down that morning as we had to jet to the hill to get our bibs, tickets and get one more slip of the course starting at 9:30AM.
We made the course slip, empty stomached, Ibuprofen free, but got a good feeling of what would happen that day. I was up first, fumbled my way down the hill, fell a couple of times, but felt "decent" and didn't make the 25% of the class makes finals on Friday. No problem I thought, as I was right there, and I had more days on the hill this year than most of my class had total. I was really worried about getting the WeGnar thru to the finals and him winning duct tape. See he had two goals. One, to better his brothers winnings at the age of 10, which was a silver duct tape, and the other was to win enough stuff at the Banked Slalom so I could sell it and he could use the money to buy his mother replacement jewelry, seeing how crackheads broke into our house two weeks prior and stole all of Lisa's jewelry. Good will was on his side and he had the second fastest time of the Next Gen age class and was in to the main event on Sunday. Milo was up next and this was the heaviest Juniors class I'd ever paid attention too. Milo pulled out of the gate like a mad man and absolutely murdered the course down past the icy slide into banks where upon he caught up to the kid that took off in front of him, a minute earlier. Lil guy was trapped behind the kid scared of the ice, and was trying to lay down the run to get him in the main event and have the class recognize who was here to claim GOLD. But dude spent 4 turns to many behind the slow kid in front and then when he heard me screaming like only a frantic Soccer Dad can "FUCKING PASS THIS KID!!! PASS HIS ASS NOW!" He made his move and blew by him. At the finish the gate people told him he could run again, but strategy told me to see if his run was fast enough to make it in first before making him rerun Death Course 2014. He got a 2:05 (I got a 2:15 by the way with no one in front of me...yea welcome to my world) which was good enough to qualify for the main event. I'm figuring he would of put down a time faster than 1:55 if that kid wasn't there. Anyway...dude made it thru.
Saturday, was my day. No kids to worry about, just the 3rd oldest dude in the 40-49 year old class had something to prove to himself. MAKE THE MAIN EVENT. Which I did, and couldn't help but grin for the rest of the day. Mac once again was the 2nd fastest in his class with a different kid being the fastest. Milo, got bogged down in a corner and was eh thru the course he should of been owning.
Sunday was the big day. We were on the hill, ready to roll and the light was absolute shit. The course had rad berms built up and we got back to back 2 runs thru the deal. I was up first along with 20 of my fellow Mid Masters. Good vibes went thru all, and off we went. I stood up two runs, and knew I wasn't in the duct tape, but felt pretty damn good. Mac was up next and ripped his first run, bobbled a bit, but was in second place on the first run. Familiar territory for the little guy this year. Second run was absolutely flawless and he was claiming a much faster time, which you have no idea what it is as you have to wait til the finals to hear what your second time was. Milo bobbled his first run and was in 4th with a 2:02 time. His second run he said "Dad, get the stop watch out, I want to know what I did with this one." He got a 1:59 on my watch unofficially. Which put him in silver/bronze duct tape positioning based on first runs. But Cody and Keala posted some killer second times that bumped dude to 4th place. Which was the first time at the Banked for him leaving with out a roll of tape. Win some, loose some. Next year bud.
Mac's class was all time as there was another family that had a dad and his two sons all racing as well. Chad Chomilac was in my class, and both his kids raced against Mac. A great Canadian family that we're lucky to have met thru this event. Anyway it got down to them announcing second place and Chad looks over at me, shakes my hand and we smile. I look over at Mac and he's doing the same thing with Jaden who was in the running for Silver or Gold. They announce Mac as the Silver Duct Tape winner and he instantly hugs Jaden and up he goes to give Gwen a hug as well. Humble in winning, gracious in loosing. I couldn't have been prouder of how he took second place, nor could his Mom.
Me? I got 16th, my second worse finish at the Banked but my most memorable as this was one hell of a weekend that you never know if it will be repeated. Thanks Baker for a well run event, thanks all the racers for being fun as all hell to hang out with, thanks all the uber pro's for being super accessible, and thanks to all our shred friends that hung out and cheered the kids on and myself thruout the weekend. THAT's the shit that I'm sitting here typing this long ass story out to and smiling my ass off remembering.
Thursday morning Terror Squad take off from Seattle.
Figure skaters would of been stoked on how hard this ice was.
Eliah is the man that makes magic at the Banked Slalom happen. XO bro.
Gigi Ruf with the Terror Squad. He's a rad dude with the kids, that's for sure.
Lib IS the brand at Baker, but CAPiTA was devouring the rest of them.
Krush and I before run 1. Pollacks being Pollacks.
JLo was a sponsor of the event. See the banner? Yep. Part of the givers, not the takers.
3 amigo's. 2 of my favorite dudes in the business. Shafuck and Ben Dildo. Milo PRIDE.
Gnar lining up with two rad ladies, Brit and Gwen. Thanks ladies for all your energy.
Meier is a champ. Full race support for the boys and myself, 3 days in a row.
Ah-wards with some Walrus looking over.
Dude was pretty stoked.
Ben and Chessa
2 of the 3 Cummins, Temple and Matt. Some of the nicest, fastest dudes on the planet.
Meier and Milo
Tim Gallager from Wave Rave IS the Banked Slalom. And he won Mid Masters to boot!
Golden boy got 4th
Jaden, Gnar and Zakk.