Soul of snowboarding: Banked slalom events return to Colorado this spring
VAIL — Banked slaloms are back this season, and snowboarders are rejoicing.
The idea of racing down a curved course, engaging your edges as much as possible, has been a staple of snowboarding for nearly as long as the activity has been in existence, with the Legendary Banked Slalom at Mt. Baker in Washington serving as a rite of passage for many snowboarders since 1985.
The Legendary Banked Slalom has spawned many offspring events, including several in Colorado, which were sorely missed last season.
The largest in Colorado is the Slash & Burn in Steamboat Springs, which attracts your average Ned and Betty shredders as well as the state’s top talent. Taylor Gold, who just finished fifth in the Olympic halfpipe competition in China, participated in the men’s open class in 2019.
In 2020, the Slash & Burn was, in a sense, the final competition in the sport of snowboarding for a while as the event was held on a fateful date: March 14, 2020.
Zach Griffin, a Summit County snowboarder now living in Vail, was competing in the Slash & Burn in 2020 as word was coming down that ski resorts were closing by order of the governor.
Griffin said before the announcement had become official that an eerie vibe came over the event.
“I was at the top of the course, and I looked over at a patroller, and I said, ‘So this is it, huh.’ He said, ‘Yeah, could be,’ and we both sat there for a long while before cruising down,” Griffin said.
Last season, banked slalom events like the Slash & Burn did not take place amid the slimmed-down season, and the Legendary Banked Slalom has been postponed yet again to 2023.
But here in Colorado in 2022, banked slaloms are back in a big way, and riders like Griffin are rejoicing.
“Banked slalom community gatherings are one place where you might catch a glimpse of the soul of snowboarding,” Griffin said.
The Slash & Burn will return March 19-20, with registration open until March 1 at sswsc.org/events/bankedslalom. Anyone and everyone is welcome to take part, with kids, masters and grand masters divisions.
“Athletes range from 6 years old to 60 plus,“ according to event organizers.
After the Slash & Burn, the next event on the calendar of (resort-sanctioned) banked slalom events in Colorado is the Trick Ditch Banked Slalom in Eldora, scheduled for April 2.
“The Trick Ditch Banked Slalom features a luge-like course with gates flanked by high berms that slingshot riders from side to side as they gain speed,” according to event organizers.
Registration opens on March 2 at 10 a.m. MST at trickditch10.com.
And the next day at Winter Park, the Bucket Banked is being held on April 3 in memory of Winter Park Competition Center alumnus Ben Lynch, who died by suicide April 25, 2021. Proceeds will benefit the Grand Foundation’s H.O.P.E. (Healing Opportunities through Prevention Efforts) Fund.
The Bucket Banked is capped at 250 competitors, and registration is currently open at winterparkresort.com/things-to-do/competition-center/comp-center-events/bucket-banked-slalom.
Scheduled for that same weekend, April 2-3, is the 10th annual banked slalom put on by Aspen Skiing Co. The event has moved around over the years, but it heads to Buttermilk Ski Area this year for the “Slash the Milk” event.
Proceeds benefit the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. Registration opens in March. April 3 also happens to be closing day this season at Buttermilk.
A local kid got on the X Games Aspen podium on Sunday night, but it wasn’t the one most people expected. Even Jon Sallinen didn’t think he’d be taking home a medal.