Dispatch #2 0-some hundred hours, Standard Bakered Time: 

GLACIER, WA – The Siege of Shuksan continues with The Man making alpine inroads into “secured” territory. Two de-Forest Service personel and one badge-emblazoning member of Whatcom County’s finest hunker down in the liftline at the bottom of Chair 5, scoping intently for threatening situations… like teenagers who might potentially smoke joints in the woods. Liquor Control cruises the annual Baked Salmon feed, forcing many, including Jeff “Grandpa” Fulton, to perform terrible and unspeakable acts of beer waste. The horror. 

Aside from the ongoing civil strife, Day Two rose to the level of everything that folks have come to expect from The Mt. Baker Banked Slalom with skies clear like backwoods corn whiskey, and enough positive vibes to forget about the obligations and procrastinations down at sea level. Mt. Shuksan, the theater of Jack Kerouac’s “Desolation Angels”, loomed up above it all, a blue and white 2001 Monolith if ever there was one. 

The most amazing thing about The Banked Slalom, is how one family, a dozen-odd volunteers and a spartan mountain staff is able to put on a more organized, efficient, and enjoyable contest than the FIS, IOC, and the American Skiing Company combined. While two-to-three hundred riders make individual runs each day, for three days straight, there are less snafus and complaints in the Banked Slalom’s history, than there are in one day of World Cup competition. But again, I’m digressing… 

The achy-breaky, bump-and-rut continued, with glazed and unforgiving lines to vertical gates and a hairpin bottom turn. There is nothing quite like watching the world’s greatest riders skidding through peril like nervous kinderskiers, and going ass-over-teakettle through the icy chunks.  

Like the man himself, Duncan Howat, says to the trepid head-shakers, “This is a great course, the most technical and demanding in years.”

And it is, with visibility from the starting gate down to The Hip turn, and Wide-World-of-Sports blowouts likely to go down at any moment, the 2001 Banked Slalom is the realest of deals. 

With gates and turns set similar to many older courses of the late Eighties, including the almost-forgotten “Jaws of Death” final turn hand crafted by Howat back in the day. This still ain’t no disco.  

Performances remained strong but the course generally remained stronger, pulling locals and Norwegians down to earth equally. In the Men’s Pro, local hope Temple Cummins fell victim to the treach course, as did countless others. Rob Morrow seized the opportunity to turn in a 1:29.14 second run and sit out in front of the field: including Terje Haakonsen, a half-second behind. Bend, Oregon’s Josh Dirksen pulled in for third. A bunch of Euros rounded out much of the top ten.  

Euros… whatever, dude. Where have you gone, Mr. Dano? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.  

In the women’s pro race, Victoria Jealouse burned all-comers by nearly three full seconds with the women’s first sub-1:40, with 1:36.72, over second-place Finn-Seattlite Marni Yamada with a 1:39.59. Italy’s Martina Magenta came in at third. For the Women’s Amateurs, it was a Washington Pride 1-2-3 finish with Glacier’s own Mechille Kiss, followed by Britt Berg, and Krisi Dill. 

As for the older goats, Shannon Melhuse, Kelowna’s Sean Lodge, and Mervin Mfg’s Peter Saari capped the Masters. And in the Next Generation class, Golden, Colorado’s Nicky Larson, at age 11, leads the pack. 

That’s all for the moment, from the land of 56k. 

New Galcierspeak, “shitwig”: dreadlocks. As in, “Dude, what do you mean you can’t let me into the party, you just let in those three shitwigs!”

Stay tuned.