In the last few years, slalom racing has regained a bit of popularity, but as the longest running race, The Legendary Banked Slalom has been there throughout the TV time, monster cash purses, and multiple corks. Going on its 28th year now, the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom has remained nearly the same since it’s inception in 1985. Beginning as a race on Super Bowl Sunday as to stay out of skier’s way, the Banked Slalom weekend is now the busiest weekend of the year at Mt. Baker. If you’ve never made it out for a Mt. Baker experience, here are some reasons why you should go check it out, even if you can’t get into the race.
1. Race is open to anyone, just enter the lottery and keep your fingers crossed.
2. Enter the Pro Men’s division and you’ll likely race Terje, even though he will smoke you.
3. Get a chance to ride some powder on the famous terrain of Mt. Baker—bring your avy gear.
4. Rumor has it Shaun Palmer is coming back to race this year. No word yet on whether he’s wearing a clown costume or American flag pants.
5. No Mega-Mo or replays of anything. Actually there aren’t even TV’s. You usually find out who won word-of-mouth before the award ceremony.
6. See the run that Terje qualified switch on and imagine just trying to make it down without washing out.
7. Kevin Pearce will be back again to compete in the race.
8. Spot as many pros from the lifts as you can by checking for next year’s gear. Keep track and whoever spots the most wins a beer in the lodge.
9. Stay in Glacier, with no cell service or Wi-Fi, and see how it goes. It will be like living in the 90s all over again.
10. Test your winter driving skills on the slalom course that is Highway 542 up to Mt. Baker.
11. Try to find the infamous Mt. Baker Road Gap, and then try to imagine yourself hitting it. Picture Mike Basich hitting it at night, by himself, lit up only by his van parked on the road below.
12. It’s a slalom race through a natural halfpipe with no course grooming, weather holds, or TV timeouts.
13. Prizes are painted rolls of duct tape, wool blankets, Carhartt jackets, surfboards, and personal pride.