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The Sixteenth Banked
Rock Stars Returning to the Righteous Race

  • Haakonsen Wins Again, Jealouse Joins the Legend

    Sixteen years ago, in the year of the first Mount Baker Banked Slalom, way back before it was the Legendary Mount Baker Banked Slalom, there were 16 entrants. This year, there are 90 pro men and 28 pro women signed up. Then there are the more than 100 amateurs, both men and women, 18 juniors, six really young juniors, 25 masters and seven grand masters. The age range is 7 to 60.

    The Banked
    The top-four finishers of the seminal race in 1984-'85, Tom Sims, Terry Kidwell, Ken Achenbach, and Craig Kelly, all made indelible marks on the snowboarding world. Making the rules as they went along, they wore whatever would work and rode on any board that would stay in one piece. They were racing in a Petri dish.

    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).

    "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...."— Matt Goodwill, '99 Winner

    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, Staff