The 19th Annual Legendary Mount Baker Banked Slalom took place this weekend under unusually sunny skies and down what race organizer Gwyn Howat called “the most technical course ever.”
For the first time, the trademark overhead powder banks and snowy conditions were replaced with glare ice corners and slide-for-life cutbacks. Blame was being heavily laid on El Nino, with global warming taking the rest of the fault. Billy Anderson determined that the course “looked pissed.” Pissed or not, Terje Haakonsen took home the big roll of duct tape beating the rest of the competition with a time of 1:33.23 redeeming himself from last years fourth place finish and placing with a three second lead over second place finisher Seth Westcott who came in at 1:36.27. Friday’s qualifiers had Terje in second place behind Peter Bauer. Mike Ranquet proceeded to heckle Terje all night, which some attributed as the spark that lit the fire for his incredible finish. Accepting his duct tape award, Terje said, “I love this place and I will always come back.”
Putting the pedal to the metal to make it to Baker straight from a second place finish in the X-Games boardercross at Aspen, Switzerland’s Tanya Frieden took first place in the Women’s Pro category. Tanya’s winning time of 1:47.59 was just enough to get her the top spot in front of local favorite Stacy Thomas taking second with a time of 1:47.65 and Michele Taggart in third with a 1:47.87. Note that the top three finishers were separated only by tenths of a second–Heavy.
DJ Pat A spun beats through the weekend starting off the competition on Friday with more versions of ‘Highway to Hell’ than most in attendance were aware existed. Beats rocked riders and hikers alike trying to milk the last of the powder from the Hemispheres to far reaches of the Shucksan arm.
The recipe for the Legendary Banked Slalom was consistent with years past including bonfires and baked salmon. The race ended with forty-two riders hitting a kicker one after another, each one throwing a method salute to Craig Kelly. His younger brother Josh, cranked the final method and totally fired up the crowd watching from the porch of the White Salmon Lodge. Many of the competitors had come out for Craig’s memorial service earlier in the week on Sunday. The grand prize of a week trip to the North shore of Hawaii was raffled off with all proceeds going to the Olivia Trust for Craig’s daughter. Dave Sypnewski and Billy Anderson even donated the bank from their ‘Ander-newski” gamble.
Unknown to many in attendance, the competition at the end of the day didn’t actually end with the gates on the hill. Competitors and spectators alike were also required to run the gauntlet past at least eight of Bellingham’s finest posted between the mountain and the town of Glacier. Competitors were undecided as to whether the course on the mountain or clearing the cop-car gauntlet was more challenging.
There are no cash prizes at the banked slalom. This years top finishers were awarded Pendleton blankets, Native American hand carved art, Mount Baker embroidered Carhardt jackets, and the legendary Duct Tape Trophy.
Competitors made the best of the sub-par conditions looking forward to next season with the knowledge that the previous El Nino year was followed by the 98-99 La Nina year of world record snowfalls. With that in mind, registration for the entry raffle begins in the fall and entry forms, as well as complete results can be found at www.mtbakerskiarea.com.
1. Terje Haakonsen 1:33.23, Norway
2. Seth Westcott, 1:36.27
3. Ueli Kestenholz 1:36.45 Switzerland
4. Temple Cummins 1:36.77 Washington
5. Brett Carpentier 1:36.91 Quebec, B.C.
6. Damien Belmere 1:38.06 France
7. Billy Anderson 1:38.13 California
8. Peter Bauer 1:38.31 Germany
9. Andy Johnson 1:39.48 Alaska
10. Jason Robinson 1:39.51 Montana