Originally, the plan was for Erik “The Mule” Leines, J.J. Thomas, and me to drive up to Volcom, meet Jay Twitty and Brian Harris, jump in the gigantic RV, and bomb up to Tahoe to shred and shoot with Joel Mahaffey, Ben Ashburner, and Jeff Anderson. Our push northward would continue on to the legendary Mt. Baker Banked Slalom to hook up with Billy Anderson and Terje (if he felt like it). We’d hang out in Washington for a while and then make our way home, stopping wherever the snow was good. I, of course, missed my plane for some reason or another. Mule and I grabbed tickets for a later flight and intended to meet up with the crew in Reno-but we missed that flight, too. Fortunately, Harris and Twitty were driving the behemoth and managed to meet up with us in San Francisco. Our bags however, did not. The lost-baggage department was a joke as usual. Oh, and J.J. had to bail on us, too-so the first day of the Volcom RV Tour was two team managers, a photographer, and a shredder without a board or clothes in a quickly dilapidating land yacht-good start.
In Reno we met up with Mahaffey and Ashburner at their house. The weather was crap, as was the snow report, so the RV went in for her first round of repairs. It was assumed that the TV and PlayStation would be operable when everyone signed on for the journey. The generator had other plans and the friendly mechanics discovered all sorts of other “necessary repairs.” A couple-thousand dollars later, the old RV was set. The prospects in Tahoe were grim in January, but giving it a shot seemed appropriate-to see if any of Mahaffey’s secret stashes would pan out. As “bright and early” turned into 9:00 a.m., we shuffled into the house and figured out the day. Man, it was cold-one of my cameras was freaking out and telling me things I didn’t want to hear. Jeff’s digi-cam was reduced to the usefulness of a paperweight, and our extremities lost feeling on the hike in. Mahaffey took us to some spots that were full of wind-deposited snow to build a few jumps. A good little edge-of-the-world-Jedi-tranny-finder-through-some-trees jump was all we had to work with. Jeff hated it and personally excavated a highway for another hip using the same landing.
After bombing-out all the available snow pack, the crew headed to Incline to play on some handrails. The first rail was relatively flat but it was nearly 30 feet long. Ben had broken his wrist a few weeks back on a similar rail and was getting even with this one. Jeff switch frontside boardslid it right out of the box, got ejected to his chin, and we bailed. In the melee surrounding Jeff’s bloody chin, his board was forgotten at the rail and when we went back to get it … surprise, it was gone. (Thanks, I hope you break your leg.) The second one was nineteen meaty stairs and super steep (45 degrees plus), with a precarious run-out, and it was wood. Joel Mahaffey is gnarly. He stomped a frontside boardslide for a warm-up and then continued to do it until he paid the piper, covers hurt sometimes. The score was: rails two, bloody shredders zero.
Mule had to go to Colorado for some contest, and Mahaffey was off to Italy, so the rest of us continued toward Baker with Jeffy and Ben. The sixteen-hour drive to Glacier, Washington felt like a short trip to the market. At least for me it did, I only drove about an hour and then quickly downed some impairing beverages so I wouldn’t have to manhandle that huge rig again. We pulled into Glacier around 10:00 p.m., and where the Chandelier used to be was a gigantic circus tent and an equally huge crowd. Matt “Babar” Barbour from Red Bull was somewhat in charge and got us dialed. There was a band, or a DJ, or something, and more people than Glacier sees in the town all year. We found a flat spot to park and tucked in for the night until … the piercing squeal of the carbon-monoxide alarm sounded like drugged angels playing soft harps in the distance, and it was really hard to fathom what the noise was in ourr poisoned state.
The clear-headed way to turn it off escaped us and the sensible thing seemed to be throwing it in the snow bank and going back to sleep … deep sleep. Apparently there was a sizeable hole in the generator’s exhaust … no heat, sweet.
The seventeenth-annual legendary Mt. Baker Banked Slalom was, as usual, the best event of the year. There’s always a home-grown genuine feeling of snowboarding for snowboarding’s sake, and this year it was as good as it gets. Sure the snow sucked and the banks of the “banked slalom” were a fraction of their normal height, but people don’t really go to Baker for consistent perfection, they go for tradition and uncertainty.
Baker Banked Slalom ResultsMen Pro1. Temple Cummins2. Sylvain Duclos3. Josh Dirksen
Women Pro1. Barrett Christy2. Victoria Jealouse3. Marni Yamada
Grandmasters1. Mike Cotes2. Jim Taylor3. Scott Liska
Masters1. Shannon Melhuse2. Gary Pendergrasse3. Paul Ferrel
Older Amateurs1. Kyle Phillip2. Scott Nelson3. Marcus Adolph
Younger Amateurs1. Blair Habenicht2. Ralph Backstrom3. Jason Robinson
Amateur Women 1. Krisi Dill 2. Marie Grindlay3. Cece Briggs
Junior Boys1. Taylor Galt2. Nick Cornford3. Lucas DeBari
Next Generation1. Roger Carver2. Cody Justus-Garrington3. Nicky Larson