When I pulled into the parking lot at Mt. Baker I was astounded. Hell, I was in shock! Where was the mountain? I couldn’t see through all that annoying sunshine. Sunshine? Was I in the right place? It’s never sunny here. Besides, I didn’t have sunscreen with me. I mean who brings sunscreen to Washington? I don’t think they even sell sunscreen in the lodge at Mt. Baker.
Even though I was having trouble shooting film or photos because of my lack of ability at dealing with no lens fog while at the banked slalom I did the best I could. For the first time I can remember I could see down to the middle of the course while standing at the starting gate. This, however, just might be a blessing. For the first time I might be able to give an accurate description of the turn of events which occurred during the 15th annual Mt. Baker banked slalom.
Seeing as it had just dumped two feet of snow and was sunny, you’d think everybody would blow the contest off and go ride powder in the Hemispheres. That is all I wanted to do. While I’m sure the thought crossed everyone else’s mind as well, no one left; people merrily enjoyed the rays of sunshine on their faces while drinking can after can of Red Bull and patiently waiting their turn to ride the Shuksan Serpent.
First were the amateurs. With hoots and hollers anyone from keen locals to drunk Canadians turn their turn at the leg-burning gauntlet that lay below the starting gate. It seemed like a fun time. Even a group of good timers built a small kicker with runway off to the side of the course. If you blew out at gate four you could still bring a smile to your lips by hitting the teeny jump and ride off into the trees thinking to yourself, “Hey! It’s sunny. Now I can go ride powder”.
The amateurs took their toll on the course, and it proved to be quite challenging for those who had to follow. This happened to be the women’s pros division. With the likes of Barrett Christy, Victoria Jealouse and reigning Banked Slalom champion Karleen Jeffery here, the competition would be..uhh..stiff. All of the women blew my mind. They all rode so well that I knew it was going to be tight. But in the end Victoria Jealouse edged by with the title for the women’s category.
As for the Men, well, it seemed at first that for the first time in years a local would take the competition. Temple Cummins was so solid and fast in the pre qualifiers, that we all thought that he was sure to take the title.
Even Terje didn’t look his usual solid self on his first run, but then again he had maybe rode three times this year. In the end though it seemed like Terje just decided that he was going to win. Ain’t natural ability a bitch to all us mere mortals?
His final run was so fast and solid that I didn’t even see it. Maybe it was during one of my many pee breaks from too much Red Bull or maybe it was the fact that I was already enjoying the sunshine on the deck of the lodge. Hey what’s that up there? Is that a mountain? I can’t see with all this damn sunshine in my eyes.
50White Chris 1.27.52
Older Amateur Men
Andy Johnson Cordova, Alaska261.21.54 Younger Amateur Men
Jason SpeerBellingham, WA191.22.421
Stacy Thomas Seattle, WA 151.31.08
Garry Pendygrasse Vancouver, B.C.311.23.86
Bruce SmithSun Valley, Idaho431.31.73 Juniors
Mathieu CrepelFrance 141.22.49
Nicky Larson Golden, Colorado101.39.45