Mt. Baker Ski Area is readying for the annual Legendary Banked Slalom. The banked slalom race, which started in 1985, brings together snowboarders once again Feb. 11-13 for an event that attracts big name pros. Two are defending their four-time titles.
Maelle Ricker, winner of the gold medal in women's snowboard cross at the 2010 Olympics, is scheduled to defend her title again in the Legendary Banked Slalom. She has won the event for the past four years.
Temple Cummins, winner of the pro men's Legendary Banked Slalom title in 2010, plans to go once more for his fifth title. He also won the event in 2001, 2006, and 2008.
The winners of the Legendary Banked Slalom, true to snowboarding's roots, don't take home big money. Just fame, a gold roll of duct tape, and an embroidered Carhartt jacket.
The competition to get into the event is wicked. The top 30 percent of the prior year's race have spots reserved. Then 95 spots are opened for anyone who wants to enter via the November lottery with 25 of the spots reserved for those who have applied before to the lottery, but haven't gotten in. Twenty spaces are reserved for the winners of a local's qualifier, which took place Jan. 17.
The Legendary Banked Slalom, which eventually gave birth to snowboard cross, sends racers one at a time down a natural half pipe. The event starts with qualifying runs on Friday and Saturday with the top finishers entering the Sunday finals. Spectators can see about 900 runs throughout the weekend. Race times average around 70 seconds, depending on snow conditions.
Here's footage of winner Bob Satushek at last year's Legendary Banked Slalom snowboard event at Mt. Baker: