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From the Sick and Philanthropic Minds of Drink Water: Rat Race 2017

Words: Taylor Boyd | Captions: Taylor Boyd, Amanda Hankison | Photos: Darcy Bacha, Amanda Hankison, Taylor Boyd

What is there to say about a banked slalom that hasn’t been said? At this point, I’ve pretty much got a list of bullet points to hit when recapping this event format that has, I would argue for the benefit of snowboarding, gained immense popularity in the latter three quarters of this past decade: it brings together snowboarding’s core community, grade schoolers can ride the same course as Terje—who won this Rat Race, so if that’s all you needed to know you can close this window out—and it encourages riders to focus on fundamentals instead of outlandish trickery. While all those compulsory descriptors apply to the Rat Race, the actual course is less a banked slalom as it is a manifestation of the sick minds that comprise the Drink Water contingent, and this year’s was, as Austin Smith put it euphemistically, the “sportiest one yet.”

Cat and mouse. Harrison Gordon racing the rat. PHOTO: Darcy Bacha

The whoops section has become the hallmark characteristic of the Rat Race, negotiating said bumps the deciding factor between putting down a competitive time and being hauled off the glacier by Timberline ski patrol—shoutout to Matt Belzile; that shoulder’s going to be good as new by fall. And the 2017 course had not one but three whoops sections; the first of which were three humps best managed by ollieing each individually. The second and most infamous set was spoken about trepidly on the streets of Government Camp before most had seen the course firsthand: “double, triple, double, double”—a phrase now burned into my brain—into a gap-to-berm scenario. The latter obstacle crushed more egos than any other on-course, mine included. A final four-pack near the course’s end was child’s play once you’d hung on through the above. Despite its formidability though, the course was flowing and rhythmic. Most wouldn’t say the same of last year’s, which would be better described as treacherous.

Switch stance through the belly of the beast. Max Warbington knows no fear. PHOTO: Amanda Hankison

Judging solely on responses received during a walk around the top of the course with Russell Winfield, questioning contestants of the favorite going into the event, it seemed Austen Sweetin is who most would have put money on. And maybe some did, but whoever was on the other end of that bet came up because Terje, who also claimed Sweetin as the favorite, took the top spot, ahead of Harry Kearney, Gabe Ferguson, Curtis Ciszek, and Jake Kuzyk, respectively. That’s right; Jake Kuzyk, the flawless rail rider from the flatlands of Canada, took fifth place at the Rat Race—perhaps, the coolest thing about the results, if you ask me. On the women’s side, Hailey Langland three-peated, coming in just above Mary Rand and Desiree Melancon. Worth noting is that Mary took her runs after being savagely victimized by the whoops section during practice—certified bad girl status.

Inexplicably and immeasurably more excruciating than the worst injury sustained on-course, however, is the day-to-day plight of millions in third world countries who lack access to clean water. What is, above all, important to understand about the Rat Race is that in its six iterations the event has raised well over a hundred thousand dollars for Water.org, making a small but noteworthy dent in a colossal global problem. You can learn more and donate here.

The men’s pro podium. PHOTO: Darcy Bacha

Results:

Men’s pro top ten:
1. Terje Haaksonsen
2. Harry Kearney
3. Gabe Ferguson
4. Curtis Ciszek
5. Jake Kuzyk
6. Austen Sweetin
7. Temple Cummins
8. Chase Josey
9. Forest Bailey
10. Alex Yoder


Women’s top seven:

1. Hailey Langland
2. Mary Rand
3. Desiree Melancon
4. Livia Molodyh
5. Katie Kennedy
6. Hannah Eddy
7. Nora Beck

Men’s unsponsored top ten:
1. JD Dennis
2. Jake Price
3. Danny Kern
4. Will Dennis
5. Tanner McCarty
6. Chris Luzier
7. Taylor Boyd
8. Jesse Curran
9. Julian McMahon
10. Carson Schubert

More from TransWorld SNOWboarding here.