Who among us would not have called Friday, January 29th a day? The first qualifier for the 15th Annual Legendary Banked wrought 270 competitors, 90-mph winds and more inches of snow-120-plus inches fallen over the last week, as of last count. Marketing Manager Gwyn Howat said she lay awake most of Thursday night listening to the pictures on the wall rattle, wondering if their mountain apartment was going to withstand the once-in-a-blue-moon La Niña thrashing.

But as her dad, General Manager Duncan Howat summed up at Super Bowl Sunday’s awards ceremony, “It’s a funny thing about the human species-the more challenges we’re given, the better we get.” Where lesser shredders would have shrunk, all at Mt. Baker rose to the occasion and put up a legend worthy of the Legendary.

“It’s always some drama here,” Gwyn said Friday, rolling her eyes. Then she and the Baker staff managed to pull an unprecedented move-opening Chair Four to the Pro Men and Women, Masters and Grand Masters. Only the roped course run was open and to keep riders honest, a huge fracture and slough dropped to the right of Four. “My dad logs a journal entry of every day up here,” Howat said later. “Friday was the only day I’ve ever seen him put a big X through the page and write a short race description.”

After qualifying Friday with wrist in a cast, a separated rib and a smoking time, Matt Goodwill could have rested up Saturday; even scoped the course for Sunday’s finals. Instead he did what legend demands-driving to Seattle’s Supercross with 60,000 other fans to choke on oil-smoke. Undeterred when a car in their party suffered a fender bender, Goodwill made it there and back, with the sight of all those wide-open throttles sinking in.

“Did some new stuff-actually waxed my board before, took my baggy, heavy coat off, pulled my cross out of my shirt and went to work,” the Washingtonian said. “The 176 was the way to go. Rode the 170 last year-too short.”

When conditions Sunday deteriorated to a whiteout, Goodwill poured it on hardest yet, finishing speedier (1.11.35) than most did in their first, faster runs. “I got heckled by Sanders Nye and Shannon Melhuse,” Goodwill laughs. “They said I kind of check-turned a couple little spots. So when I came through the second time I made sure there was no check-turning!”

He’s taken a couple Banked Slalom seconds and thirds, but accepting his first, beating one of the deepest pro fields yet, the King was in the building, arms up, braying into the rafters, “I want a season’s pass!”

Karleen Jeffrey could’ve been happy with her five wins, instead Sunday she made it six. Qualifying first on Friday she didn’t spend Saturday resting but went out skiing-”skiiun’” as she calls the two-board racing she used to do. “I took a rip through the course on my skis-it was so much faster. It would be easier with those.”

Jeffrey is not a local, she’s spent her last two winters in Chamonix, France. But after winning a season’s pass in last year’s Slalom she decided to give Glacier a go. “I really enjoy it here because Gwyn and Amy show really great hospitality to all the riders. They really try to get to know everyone who’s here-really difficult over a weekend wh 270 people! By the end you really feel like you know everyone. It’s a lot of camaraderie, cheering each other on, everyone’s here to enjoy it. At some of the world tour boardercrosses-I don’t know how to describe it at the top-it’s a lot of tension.”

Baker comes to her as easy as a laugh, or another Slalom win. She’s run it seven times and won six. Her first time she took third-six months after she started riding! “If I let out my secrets I’d be beaten!” She laughs yet again, “But there are a few pointers some people totally miss the boat on. In the last year or two I’ve been really going back to my skiing, trying to spend a little bit more time on those. You just seem to charge straight down the hill on a pair of skis. It all relates-I want to try telemarking. Any kind of snow sport you do really helps your technique.”

Although known as a soft booter/freestyle race, it didn’t hurt to have race technique. Following last year’s lead of Peter Bauer and Jean Nerva, Kris Karol showed up to ride a 182 for a third in the Masters. Betsy Shaw turned out but couldn’t ditch years of gate-bashing mindset to dent in the women’s field. Leslee Olsen gave up racing this season but came to the Slalom for the first time since she was twelve-nine years ago. “It’s completely different than racing,” she says. “You want to ride the banks and not get close to the gates. I did that on the first day and I was like, I’ve got to throw out all my race technique. It’s kind of like riding a halfpipe. You’ve got to pump the walls and stay in the banks. It’s more like freeriding. Ex-racers do well because they go for it.”

Speaking of which, retired Overall World Champ, now Morrow boot/binding designer Mario Paolo Dabbeniqualified second and managed to stay there, contributing to a Morrow sweep with Goodwill, third-place Josh Dirksen, and fifth-place Rob Morrow (who also invented a new Slalom rule-25 percent of the top finishers from each day delivers 50 percent of all racers to the final). “I wish I could’ve been here a few years ago, it would’ve been fun,” MPD said, looking positively wistful for back in the day. His last pro win was the US Open slalom in 1993. His secret today? “Long hours in the office,” he deadpans.

Wes Makepeace could’ve paid a little less attention, instead he was a hero saving one lucky kid’s life see Dave’s story. Makepeace joked at the awards before a standing ovation, “I uncovered his face and saw it wasn’t Matt Cummins, his riding partner. But I dug him out anyway.”

Local Scott Stamnes (who just finished ninth at Vans’ Amateur Skateboard Championships) went his own extra mile, honoring friend Teal Copeland’s idea for the Baked Salmon at the Banked Slalom. Copeland died last season crashing his car off Baker road, so together with fellow commercial fisher Andy Johnson, and financial assistance from Mervin, Stamnes was able to round up almost three hundred pounds of organic king salmon for Saturday’s bonfire in honor of Copeland. “I know everybody would trade all that to have Teal back, but his spirit will live forever here and in all the mountains of the world,” Stamnes said.

Banked Slalom originator Bob Barci put together a forty-minute slide show on the history of the race Saturday at the Chandelier. Oakley Team Support Gus Buckner drove a truck with band equipment up through the rain so his band of industry folk, The Shut-Downs, could rock the Chando with punk rock stylings.

Sideways people came through just by showing up-Shaun Farmer shredding in blue/orange Polaris jacket, Ranquet, Johan Olofsson, Alex Warburton, Allan Clark, Omar Lundie, Mark Friesen, Billy Anderson, Brian Savard, Lael Gregory, Jamie Lynn Dave Lee, Serge Vittelli, Peter Strom, Jason McAlister, Andrew Murphy, Joe Curtes, Shin Campos, Olsen, Barrett Christy, Nicole Angelrath and Olympic Bronze medalist Shannon Dunn, who remarked, “Eight years ago I did the Banked Slalom during the PSTA. I guess I forgot how fun it was. I’ve wanted to do it for so long, so no matter what this year I put all the other things aside. I want to come back every year for sure. It’s just the back in the day event, still. It’s cool to see the people you don’t see at events here. You get your package of goodies when you check in. It’s such a small community here everyone gets together more. Everyone’s hangin’ at the Chando.”

Freestylers raced. Racers freestyled. The top three Men’s Pro places were 1.11s. The 1.15s extended clear to 35th place. No one got out of bounds but in blue-moon conditions, on a fast, fast course, everyone dug deep and came up with lots more than a handful of pocket lint. Finally it came down to what fourth-place Masters finisher and longtime Baker rider Luke Edgar called, “The double drama”-no one able to know their second, final time until awards announced by Gwyn Howat.

The plan of “culture over cash,” received a standing ovation as well-using the pro take to commission local artist Shaun Peterson (no relation) to fashion hand-painted drums and paddles for the winners, as well as a permanent piece for the White Salmon Lodge.

Grand Master Champion Jim “J.T.” Taylor, 44, a bicycle industry manager, continued the local streak by extending his wins to three in a row, beating even Tom Sims, entering for his first race in years. “This year something happened that was amazing,” Taylor said. “I’d had kind of a difficult year, some family members who were ill, and a couple friends bought me a pass on New Year’s. They gave me a pass just because they said they missed me at the mountain. That was amazing. That’s what Glacier’s about: Good friends riding together.”

So it is, fifteen years and running. Tom Sims could’ve stayed at home like other industry pioneers invited to race this year, instead he showed up like the old days-like one of us-and from the mountain received his just desserts. I remember seeing him at Kanbayashi, Japan for the first Olympic halfpipe contest, and I’ve always wondered what he really thought that day about the sport he helped invent. The stuff only said when tape recorders are off and no one is writing down your every word. Here at Baker was the answer: No losers, just freeriding winners.

“Screw the Olympics,” Sims said softly to wild applause, “This is the real spirit of snowboarding. the race Saturday at the Chandelier. Oakley Team Support Gus Buckner drove a truck with band equipment up through the rain so his band of industry folk, The Shut-Downs, could rock the Chando with punk rock stylings.

Sideways people came through just by showing up-Shaun Farmer shredding in blue/orange Polaris jacket, Ranquet, Johan Olofsson, Alex Warburton, Allan Clark, Omar Lundie, Mark Friesen, Billy Anderson, Brian Savard, Lael Gregory, Jamie Lynn Dave Lee, Serge Vittelli, Peter Strom, Jason McAlister, Andrew Murphy, Joe Curtes, Shin Campos, Olsen, Barrett Christy, Nicole Angelrath and Olympic Bronze medalist Shannon Dunn, who remarked, “Eight years ago I did the Banked Slalom during the PSTA. I guess I forgot how fun it was. I’ve wanted to do it for so long, so no matter what this year I put all the other things aside. I want to come back every year for sure. It’s just the back in the day event, still. It’s cool to see the people you don’t see at events here. You get your package of goodies when you check in. It’s such a small community here everyone gets together more. Everyone’s hangin’ at the Chando.”

Freestylers raced. Racers freestyled. The top three Men’s Pro places were 1.11s. The 1.15s extended clear to 35th place. No one got out of bounds but in blue-moon conditions, on a fast, fast course, everyone dug deep and came up with lots more than a handful of pocket lint. Finally it came down to what fourth-place Masters finisher and longtime Baker rider Luke Edgar called, “The double drama”-no one able to know their second, final time until awards announced by Gwyn Howat.

The plan of “culture over cash,” received a standing ovation as well-using the pro take to commission local artist Shaun Peterson (no relation) to fashion hand-painted drums and paddles for the winners, as well as a permanent piece for the White Salmon Lodge.

Grand Master Champion Jim “J.T.” Taylor, 44, a bicycle industry manager, continued the local streak by extending his wins to three in a row, beating even Tom Sims, entering for his first race in years. “This year something happened that was amazing,” Taylor said. “I’d had kind of a difficult year, some family members who were ill, and a couple friends bought me a pass on New Year’s. They gave me a pass just because they said they missed me at the mountain. That was amazing. That’s what Glacier’s about: Good friends riding together.”

So it is, fifteen years and running. Tom Sims could’ve stayed at home like other industry pioneers invited to race this year, instead he showed up like the old days-like one of us-and from the mountain received his just desserts. I remember seeing him at Kanbayashi, Japan for the first Olympic halfpipe contest, and I’ve always wondered what he really thought that day about the sport he helped invent. The stuff only said when tape recorders are off and no one is writing down your every word. Here at Baker was the answer: No losers, just freeriding winners.

“Screw the Olympics,” Sims said softly to wild applause, “This is the real spirit of snowboarding.