Mt. Baker's Legendary Banked Slalom, which debuted in 1985, sees its 25th year of competition Feb. 5-7. The event, which has grown into one of the most prestigious snowboarding events in North America, now requires rigorous entry standards and garners crowds of spectators to see some of the big names in snowboarding.
Mt. Baker was one of the few resorts in 1985 that welcomed snowboarders, where the Legendary Banked Slalom had a meager start, with 14 riders on the 500-foot-long course dotted with 15 gates. But its small beginning organized by Bob Barci and Tom Sims heralded bigger things to come as the event ballooned into attracting pros and industry mainstays for two days of qualifying events followed by Sunday finals.
The event grew so big that competitors can now only enter via finishing in the top 30 percent the previous year, being drawn as one of 95 spots in a lottery, or winning one of 15 spots in the Martin Luther King Day local's qualifier. The event now features 13 divisions, including a Next Generation division for kids 11 years old and younger and the Super Masters for those 60 years and older.
The course, built in a natural halfpipe, adds slalom gates at the tops of the walls. The natural terrain yields rollers, berms, and banked turns-all of which made the original banked slalom event an early predecessor to today's boardercrosses.
The race, holding on to its roots, makes its mark by name and tradition rather than big money. The trophy features a gold-painted roll of Duct Tape. Winners get their names listed in the Legendary Banked Slalom Honor Roll alongside those who launched the sport.