Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The 31st running of the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom

Man oh man did I have big plans for this years Banked Slalom.  I just turned 50 and for most people, they're bummed out with this age milestone.  Not me, I was stoked cause now I was the youngest dude in denial in the Grand Masters class that consists of 50-59 year old's.  Usually the younger the guy, the better the chance of finishing.  Usually...

A couple months ago I was thinking that this is the year all three of us get tape.  Milo won his class last year, but his time was good enough to get him second in the age category above.  And Mac, well he just plain hauls ass and I can blame myself for him not getting on the podium last year because I had him on the wrong equipment.

Griff was coming out, and so was Jake Jarvis.  Was is the key word.  He got himself so spun out of control with how much work he had writing orders for Powder Tools and Christy Sports that there was "NO WAY" he could get away for a 3 day adventure to Baker, with the entire industry that actually snowboards.  So last Tuesday he did the dreaded call to me and asked what he could do to make it up.  We chatted that Griff was coming out and it would be rad to surprise his ass with a spot in the very race he's entered the lottery to get in on for the last 6 or 7 years.  Jake wrote a compelling letter to Amy Howat and she did something that they really never do, gave Jake's spot to Griff.

WA was a shit show last week.  Mountain passes were shut down everywhere from Baker to White Pass.  Baker was shut down from Sunday before the race until the actual race day.  There were 20 or so employees that got stuck up at the pass that set the course, timing, shoveled the chairs, got the trails in check and readied the area in case it could open on Friday.  And it did.

Friday morning we drove up from Bellingham, seeing how there were 3 trees that crashed on top of our condo and the power was out, so they wouldn't let us check in.  We got to the area early, checked in, bro'd down and side slipped one of the smoothest runs I'd ever been on in the 9 years of doing the Slalom.  Hats off to you guys at Baker cause with all that Mother Nature handed you, you guys delivered a straight flush.

Milo's arch rival at the LBS was back this year.  Cody Warble has always beat Milo every time they race and he was back after two slaloms off.  He posted the fastest time on Friday with Milo in tow and both of them qualified.  Mac had a stacked class and was on the bubble of qualification but had to give it a go on Saturday to get in.  Griff and I had what any old man would call a pretty stacked Geritol class of dudes that still actually love to get after it as best that they can.  Luke from Traeger, Tex Davenport, Jay from World Boards, amongst others were in our field of 20.  Benny Pelligrino set me straight right before I took my run and said "Johan, I don't care how you finish, but what ever you do, beat Jay Moore." This of course was because a couple of years ago Jay won the class and his times were faster than the age class below, so naturally he was pretty stoked about it and let the younger dudes know that this old man still had it.  Ben's wish was granted both on Friday and Saturday as Jay took a slight back seat to my time. I was at the finish line for Griffs first pull thru the course.  He came across the line, layed down in exhaustion when the gate keeper came and told him his time was jacked and he had to do his run again.  "But I don't WANT to do another run" was his response.

Fridays shit show of weather turned into slightly nicer on Saturday.  My only responsibility was to make sure Mac's board was ready to roll so he qualified, and to announce the event for the first two age groups while Britt, who has announced the LBS for 16 years got to pre run the course.  Gwen gave me a skeptical look knowing some squirrelly shit could come out of my mouth.  

The rest of the day was spent spinning laps, riding chairs and shooting the shit with people you'll only get to do it with at the Banked Slalom.  On one of the chair rides up we were sitting with a dude that came over from Kauai to hang out with his "homies."  After chatting with him for a bit, he said he started and was selling these knee gaskets called Mrs. G's.  His name was Steve Graham and I almost fell off the chair.

Sunday was fun day and all three of the Malkoski's made the main event, as well as our French Friend Matteo, Mac's whole crew of dude made it and our friends the Cline's boys were in.  Griff didn't make it on paper but that was fine, the fact that he got three full pulls, didn't puke, finished with a respectable time and earned a LBS goodie bag of his own was a win for the kid.

Milo had the fastest time for his class on the first run, Mac had the second in his class.  After their second runs they both felt good.  I was feeling like I needed an excuse in case I didn't podium so when and old buddy asked me to hike the arm before the finals, I thought this horrible idea sounds great.

In the end Milo got second, Mac finished forth, Wyatt realized his destiny and won, and Jay Moore beat me in both runs on finals day.  Not at all how I had it planned out in my head but sitting at work three days after it's all over I have nothing but a winning smile on my face as the real charm of the LBS isn't the trophys, race, weather, or special wax you have on your board, its the people.

Enjoy the photoes from the weekend:

Gnar and Kashnala eyeballing lines, or shred babes?
 Benny has got some of the smoothest style of the track and on. 
 This is a photo of the 4th hottest chick in snowboarding.  So hot. 
 Soccer moms, sandwiched by legends. 
 Gnar pinning it thru one of the fastest turns.
 Owen Cline
 Pat Bridges listening in on what Lisa is telling Milo to do on the course so he can go and tell Cody Warble what to do. 
 This was a highlight of mine from the event.  Pat Bridges, arguably knows more of the kids at the LBS than anyone and stood at the top of the start line yelling at all of them with a little bit of pride.. 
Three Gold duct tape winners, Finn Finestone, Wyatt Cline and Juliette Pelchat.

 Wy Wy
 Mi Mi
 Mr. Logic got a well deserved pat in the ass from Jeff Galbreith as the recipient of the Craig Kelly award for cultivating snowboarding in the North West for 25 years.  Congrats buddy, you deserved it. 
 "Wait, what I gotta go?  Shit, let me get some tunes going Amy." 
 Griff captured one of my only turns that I didn't scrub speed on.
 Benny 50/50ing the berm.
 4-7=3 and that's how many runs Griff got down the coarse.  Three. 
 Grand Masters waiting for times at the finish line.

 Steve Graham, Luke and Jay Moore.  Full fan mode.
 Right before the finals, we hiked so I could have an excuse for not winning, but after meeting up with OX at the top and taking his line down, I won. 
 When 3 time Olympian and X-Games champ Daron Rahlves sends you wax and instructions, you listen and follow them to a T.  Thanks Wend Wax and Mr. Rahlves. 
 A 54 year old man pretending that his 30 year old wife "wanted" a picture with Travis Rice when actually the 54 year old man wanted the picture of Travis with his wife.  Nice work all weekend Rick Kadar, you exude a stoke and smile second to none. 
 How's THAT banner placement?
Crazy ass Julie Smith from Canada and Kim Cline from the Diabetes Den. 
Friday was blue bird and calm, right Jason Cline?
See you next year Baker.  Thank you for all the smiles. 


  1. Always entertaining reading Malkoski's blogs. Eloquated as only he can do...great stuff! You called me out truthfully-ha ha ;)! The nephews were so stoked. Asked if I Photoshoped TRice into the picture... see ya at Stevens Pass!

  2. yeah johan! stoked to see you guys :) safe travels

  3. Johan it was great watching an riding with you. Keep up the stoke and fan those flames of the youth. Wow they shred!!