Monday, February 13, 2012

27th Baker Banked: Another Legend

Yup, last one to the party, no doubt, with the 27th Annual Legendary Baker Banked Slalom info. Had to make the haul down I-5 yesterday with some stops. Then, crashed out early because today was a powder day at Meadows. Who'da thunk? That crazy ice layer is still lurking, though. Tripping heel edges you thought were going to spray powder all over the free world. Serious damage done today. In a real way. To my meat box. Not some metaphorical 'destruction.' I feel broken. Enough about me, though, things got legendary over the weekend. Let me tell you what eye saw.

Saturday. Hard to get motivated when it's been raining all week. More on that later. Managed to get down there and check out the race. Even demoed some gear: Jones Hovercraft, Yes Pick Your Line and Now IPO bindings. All good in different ways. You will hear more, but here's the teaser.

2013 Yes Pick Your Line

2013 Jones Hovercraft and Mountain Twin flanked by Yes men

JF Pelchat sets me up with the Now IPO.
Mervin boards I didn't ride. Look for C3 BTX next year.
What about the race? I watched a few folks from the top and a few from the middle. Not much middle ground as far as the race. Folks were either slaying or getting bucked. Gnarly-ass course. Makes me wonder whether I really want to get accepted to ride in it. Gwyn Howat said that for the first time ever some of the banks were over her head. And she's no pixie at six feet tall. Another first, mid-week the course was an icy mogul field and the crew was praying for rain. You read that right. They can't just power-till the course, so the only natural cure would be the four-letter word we usually curse. It came. Course softened. What could have been a bobsled track got downgraded to 'challenging.' Thank the rain. Ha. Just make sure it knows its place. For example, don't rain on the salmon feed/handplant contest. Thank you. 

Who is this, Marben? Where's the light from, God?
So much food they were giving it away at the end.

The grindage up top was looking tasty, too.
Sunday Finals. No demos as my crew again lacked motivation and the demo tents were packing up early. I did get a glimpse of some pro men's runs and some groms' after them. Let me tell you something, it's easy to appreciate video-part-quality snowboarding when it's on a screen in front of you, but it's even easier to appreciate when it's carving down a hill in front of you. Professional athletes on a closed course. Sit back and watch. If you can't watch Josh Dirksen take his LBS turns and aspire to replicate them, you're either Terje or you're numb. Not everyone films a three-minute shred-porn section every year, but, much like REM said, everybody turns. Sometime. Still, no one ever says, "I want to turn like Josh Dirksen." Well, I do. Maybe next year I'll ask all the micro-groms who their favorite riders are. I will take special note of those who respond with Dirka-Dirka-San. All that said, this is a results-based game, no one cares what you look like, you gotta WIN! Overheard in the lodge before the awards, "Dirksen has all the qualities you envy in a person except the ability to win." I should have asked that dude his name, I'd love to have an attribution for that. You know who you are, third floor of the lodge around 4pm. Of course he goes on to take second AGAIN. Maybe he just knows that silver is the only real duct tape color. Everything else is an impostor. Who would want that? Temple Cummins came in third because the only place he ever lands at this event is on the podium. Terje won because he's that good. He had to bounce to Norway and the World Snowboard Championships before the awards, though, because he's in demand. And because he's that good.
Scotty Wittlake praying

Scotty Wittlake slaying
Another special moment for me that day was Kevin Pearce's presence. What can you say? Has a time ever mattered less? Kevin looked more stoked than anyone at the awards ceremony. What an inspiration to anyone who's ever had to come back from a serious injury. Traumatic brain injury to gnarly banked turns in a couple years. Ending in Banked Slalom entries for life. See you next year, Kev. Wear your helmets, kids.

Watching Milo Malkoski race and win his first gold was pretty cool, too. You can read all about it on his proud pop's blog. What he won't tell you is that dad was pacing/racing Milo down the first half of the course. Talk about a stoked dad. Milo's time was just a little slower than the old man's, too. What does he get when he finally beats you, Johan?

Who says the groms don't take it seriously?
Hearing the crowd go nuts when someone from Glacier wins is amazing. Makes me wish I could have been there when Lucas DeBari won in 2007. Must have been off the meter. My first year was 2008, when Temple won it and I thought that crowd was nuts. I couldn't even hear Danielle Davis's name getting called this year. And this wasn't her first win. Glacier loves its own.

Sarah Taylor, "I get second every six years: 2000, 2006 and 2012."

Maelle Ricker owns the women's pro division. This year marked her sixth win in a row. And she won by almost five seconds. She also wrecked into the fence in her second finals run. Like a true pro, she unstrapped, hiked up around the gate, took a bow, buckled back in and finished her run without a DQ. Is the mark of a pro the flawless winning time or the unwillingness to give up?

That quote sums it up.
Finally, I just can't top Baker for getting together with all my shred buddies. I have quite a few that I only see there. I wish I could see them more often, and I wish I'd stop missing some even there, but as long as the Legendary Banked Slalom goes down, at least I'll know where they'll be for that one weekend in February. You guys know who you are. See you next year!


  1. Hi! Any review or comparison of the Pick Your Line and Hovercraft. Really interested in those both for a freeride/pow board. Thanks!

  2. I'll be getting those full reviews out in the next few posts.

    Real quick, though, they're both nice boards. If you don't mind not having a tail on your pow board, the Hovercraft will slay. The 156 rides huge and would probably never sink, though I didn't test it in powder.

    Pick Your Line is an entirely different animal. Camber underfoot, early rise nose and tail, Nidecker calls it CamRock. Longer nose would probably float well, but it's a great all-mountain stick. Great mid-stiff flex.

    Hovercraft is your pow quiver board. Pick Your Line is no one-trick pony. Just depends on what you're looking for/how many boards you want.

  3. Thaks!

    The PYL interests me a lot because it could be the only board I need (want to ride) for back country. But since it would not be my only board, I will probably go with the Hovercraft.

  4. I've been wanting to demo pick your line. looking forward to your review!

  5. I'm looking forward to your review too. I have K2 Turbo Dream right now, but don't like it too much and I'm looking for an all-mountain/pow etc. board with more pop. BTW did you test the Mountain Twin in the picture? I heard it's somehow different from 2012 model. Thanks!

  6. I haven't ridden a Mountain Twin. I'll start getting those reviews up now that fall is rolling in. One board I liked from the spring demo was the Ride Berserker. That might be right up your alley if you're looking for all-mountain and poppy. Another, the Never Summer Proto CT, might not be as good as the Berserker in pow (on paper, I didn't get any pow for the test), but it can turn on a dime and rail hard.

  7. Thanks for the quick reply! I have to look into that Ride.


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