The Sixteenth Banked
Rock Stars Returning to the Righteous Race
Back then, Baker was the place for a number of reasons: it welcomed snowboarders, which few other areas did at the time; it had a natural halfpipe, so the course (only 500 feet long at the time) was easy to build; plus, Baker was already a laboratory for burgeoning board-builders like Mike Olsen (Mervin Manufacturing).
Since then, as snowboarding became cooler, then legitimate, then shrink-wrapped, the Banked Slalom kept happening, year after year. It is perhaps the only thing that has remained the same.
These days, pros are wooed by huge prize money and television exposure to competitions all over the world. But the folks at Baker just have to set up the course, and everybody, even the rock stars, will come to the little contest that could. Four-time Banked winner Terje Haakenson is coming, as are Tina Basich, Ross Rebagliati, Victoria Jealouse, Brian Savard, Jamie Lynn, Julie Zell, and returning champions Matt Goodwill and Karleen Jeffery (who celebrated her sixth Banked title last year).
Goodwill, who had been trying to win it as a pro for years, says there's a little pressure going into the race this year, but he's dealing with it. "I know I can win that race now, so it's just about being relaxed and comfortable. It's definitely a leg-burner, but it's a good time. Pretty much, you're racing yourself. It's how long you can hold on, because it turns into a big luge run."
The secret to winning? "Definitely wax and a good base prep helps you win," says Goodwill, "because I never really worked on my board before last year and I finally did something and I won, so that's got to say something right there."
Looks like the weather might just cooperate, but there's no telling at Baker, site of the world-record snowfall in '99. Regardless of course conditions and visibility, the race will go on, parties will be had, smoked salmon will be eaten, and more snowboarding history will be made. We'll be there and we're taking you along.
Check back on Monday for full story and pics.
Mary Catherine O'Connor, MountainZone.com Staff