Thursday, February 5, 2009

Competition or Community?

This weekend two of the most opposite contests in the history of competition are going down: the 24th Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom and Red Bull's Snowscrapers. One is a long-standing race that gets hundreds of groms, pros and old souls together for a few days of racing with nothing more (or less) than locally-made prizes and a trophy fashioned after a roll of duct tape. The other is a first-time mega-jump with uber-sponsors and hyper-promotion (and-I-love-hyphens!). Battling it out for spin-to-win supremacy and 100G's in prizes will be 16 hand-picked combatants.

Tonight, the first ever Red Bull Snowscrapers kicks off in New York City. The scaffolding jump is reminiscent of Air and Style, but with a hip landing; a gap hip, if you will. I've never seen anything quite like it. Not sure what will go down. Initial reports say the speed isn't quite right, so I hope they got that fixed. Anthrax (the band, not the disease) is set to make an appearance. Oh yeah and the prize pool is 100,000 bucks, so everything is huge, large and/or epic. Check out the info at Red Bull and watch it live at GO211 from now 'til around 6pm Pacific Time.

Tomorrow the qualifying runs start for the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, one of the most storied snowboard races of all time. Tomorrow night, Jamie Lynn's band, Kandi Coded, will rock the Joowanna Café in Maple Falls. Coincidence? Probably not. This is one event that might be more about people getting together off the hill than throwing down on it. Run in the same natural halfpipe since 1985, the LBS course changes a little every year, but the basics are the same: banked turns and high speeds. On the same run are everyone from 10-year-old amateurs to 60-year-old grandfathers. The last chance to qualify is Saturday, then the finals on Sunday determine who takes home the tape. Oh yeah, they have a baked salmon dinner and a bonfire on Sunday, too. That's it. No live broadcast, no commercial interruptions. Money donated to causes infinitely exceeds prize money because there is no prize money. Really. A contest with no prize money. And it's not a qualifier for other contests that do have prize money. If you don't get it, you might have to drive east on WA 542 to find out.

An interesting connection: Travis Rice and Terje Haakonsen are listed as competing in both events. Also, the band Valient Thorr is playing Snowscrapers while they played in Kandi Coded's spot last year. Maybe the two events aren't so different after all. It's all snowboarding, ya know?

It's a little late to get to NYC, but GO211 has the live coverage of Snowscrapers right now. I'm making the drive up to Baker tomorrow and might even have a blog from there for you. Not that the internet can capture the legendary vibe, but maybe it will get you to check it out for yourself next year...

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