Dear Internet Readers,
There are very few things in life that really matter in a person’s life.To me, the Banked Slalom is one of those few things. I have never feltmore a part of an event in my life. Gynn, Amy, Martha, the cave, and therace volunteers are special, in my life and my memories. All thecompetitors are also that important as well. These people who come do notcome for money, they come for a painted roll of duct tape, and some don’teven come for that.
It is most fitting the race is held on Super Bowl Sunday of every year,because I feel it is of equal comparison. It is the same to me as the NBAChampionships, the World Series, the Final Four, or the Stanley Cup. Tomake the cut alone is a heavy thing, but to win, well one could onlydream. A person who wins like Terje should be compared to a MichaelJordan.
I apologize for the delay in my coverage and in my coverage as well. Icould never completely explain the Legendary Baker Banked Slalom to you,just as one could never explain what is to be in love or to feel the heartwretch of not living up to one’s own expectations. All I can offer is somebrief journal like notes and a promise: if you can ever make it to thisrace, it will change your life.
The General a.k.a. Joe Cummins woke us before dawn, much to Andy’sdispleasure. Thanks to Matt (Cummins) our boards had been waxed the nightbefore. Waxing is probably the second most important part of a fast run,the first being a competent rider. I being the genius that I am decided toscrape before we left for the hill, Matt instantly reprimanded me. ¿Noteto self-You scrape and buff only prior to your run. Registration was from8:00 to 8:30 am, coarse inspection was from 9:00 to 9:30 am. Slipping onlyof course. The sky was clearer and bluer than at any Banked Slalom I’dever been to; you could see all of the surrounding Cascades for miles.
At the starting gate Gynn and Martha had been yelling who was to run nextand giving out hugs like crazy. They started with the Next Generationsfirst, Men’s Pro run last. Each racer was given one run, the top 25 percentadvancing and the rest of the field has tomorrow to try again. The anxietyof your first run is enough to make a grown man cry. Everyone wants to dohis or her best, period.
Terje had shown up, but that didn’t stop Temple Cummins from having thefastest time of the day with a 1:19:60. I wonder if Matt’s insane wax jobcontributed to his time. Billy Anderson fell in his run making me one hundreddollars richer. The favorites for Sunday seemed to be Temple, Terje, RobMorrow, Josh Dirksen, Peter Bauer and Matt Goodwill.
We helped Cheryl (Cummins) prepared our steak and potato dinners. Cherylis in my top five of all time greatest cooks. The Cummins/NorthwestSnowboards/One Ball Jay has been involved with the Banked Slalom for overfourteen years and truly help to make the experience so much more.
Matt and Temp teched out our boards as Andy and I ran some errands. It wasmy turn for one, two, three, drop and I lost twenty-five, but gained ahell of a buzz.
Again the General awakes us before dawn. As my personal traditioncontinues I awoke and opened a nice cold Wienhards, it was to be one ofmany, and felt good to my pounding head. My tradition includes sitting inthe lodge as long as I can before my run. (Lots of people funnel through,always ready to buy you a mellow one.)
I had qualified the day before and was up a hundred, so I had nothing tolose, yet when I enter the start shack I was shaking violently. I followedMatt’s waxing instructions to the letter and boy did it work great. I hadmade three huge mistakes on the course but was only eight tenths of asecond slower. Billy however, had fallen in this run again. He would notmake the cut, and that is a hundred times worse than loosing anotherhundred bucks to me. I immediately head back to the start shack to tellGynn Billy could have one of my runs tomorrow. She said she’d see what seecould do.
Terje haad the fastest time, followed by Temp, and then Rob Morrow. Therace was getting heated.
The bonfire was blazing and the line for the salmon was long, but man itwas worth the wait. Hands down it was the best salmon I had ever tasted.Mike Ranquet was back at the hill for the bonfire with his ankle in a cast after breaking it the day before. Mike, James, and Axel had been getting good snow and doinghairball lines all morning. Mike had come off a cliff into a chute and wasin the high speed run-out when he hit some ice and consequently ran into atree. The Legendary Banked Slalom isn’t always just the course.
At the bonfire Gynn had pulled Billy and I aside to inform us that Billycould use one of my runs but it would count against the field, only me. Myrun would count, but I’d only get one. I was happy Billy was back in, andwe still had two hundred on it.
Andy was still hungry when we got down, so Temp dropped us of at Milano’spromising to return in an hour. We would all go see Dave Lee and ToddSchlosser’s band play. We eat and an hour past, no sign of Temp, so Andyand I grabbed twelve sport beers from Graham’s and walked over to seeRanquet. After some cards, (I lost thirty) we headed down to Maple Fall’sto the party. Dave and Todd rocked, and Todd even stood up for Burien and”sissy” rock to a horde of drunken “moshers”.
I did make it home by two a.m., the General informed me of this at seventhis morning. It hurt. I couldn’t talk. I just wanted to sleep. We drove upto the hill, it hurt. I sat in the lodge, it hurt. I went to the top ofthe course, it hurt.
At 11:00 a.m. it stopped hurting when the panic of the race had replacedit. You get two runs on Sunday, the first you see your time, the second isannounced at the awards. Of the known times, Terje had the fastest. Billy and I elected to not know our times till the awards. Ifell coming out of the second turn, since I had given my other run toBilly, I knew it was done. The fall cost me at least six seconds, andMatt’s wax job could only do so much.
Much to my embarrassment Gynn called us up at the awards. Billy made itdown with a solid 1:22:03, I failed with a 1:26:20. Billy and I came outeven, and I’m glad my friend was happy.
I laid down for much need sleep, I was sad it was over, but smiled alittle when I realized the 2001 Banked Slalom started in only 363 days.