Mount Baker’s 36th Annual Legendary Banked Slalom will be postponed to 2025, the website announced Thursday, Feb. 1. The heavy decision came after a disappointing snow condition forecast, said Amy Trowbridge, Mount Baker marketing manager.
“We’re doing our best on the mountain, our crew is working so hard to do what we can to maintain snow,” Trowbridge said.
Course director Gwyn Howat was up at course location every day the last week of January keeping an eye on conditions, Trowbridge said. A crew of volunteers and employees shoveled snow before the rain hit, attempting to maintain as much snow coverage on the corners. However, after the rain spell, Mount Baker had lost too much snow.
“It's difficult because it affects everyone up and down Highway 542,” Trowbridge said. “Those communities rely on the student snowboarding business and the tourists who come through.”
This is not the first time the Legendary Banked Slalom has been postponed. In 2005 and 2015, low snow conditions resulted in Mount Baker holding off the competition.
This year’s 395 competitors will have the option to withdraw and receive a full refund or defer their spot for the following year, Trowbridge said. The locals qualifier, set to be held in mid-March, usually allots for 60 competitor spots in the Legendary Banked Slalom. This year, riders will not be racing to qualify for a spot due to lack of open entry spots.
“There are still fun days to be had,” Trowbridge said. “Some of my favorite days I’ve ever had snowboarding were in the pouring down rain.”
The Legendary Banked Slalom, started in 1985, encompasses the history of snowboarding and celebrates the growing community. Snowboarding was in the early stages when the first organizers, Bob Barci and Tom Sims, came together and experimented with the first race, according to the Mount Baker website.
On Super Bowl Sunday, they gathered around 20 snowboarders, had them race down a natural halfpipe and the Legendary Banked Slalom was born.
Mount Baker was the chosen birthplace because it was one of the few ski areas that welcomed snowboarding at the time, Towbridge said.
“It’s just about having fun and trying to send it as hard as we can,” said pro snowboarder Mason Lemery.
The recently-released 36th Legendary Banked Slalom poster, created by Aron Fredriksson, features the slalom course with the mountain range watching lit from behind. Fredriksson does not participate in the race, but said he enjoys watching his son compete.
“The inspiration behind this year's artwork came from my time spent up at Mount Baker, as well as the long history of amazing art that has been done for the Banked Slalom,” Fredriksson said. “It was a lot of fun to make my version of it.”
Having watched the Legendary Banked Slalom for 30 years, Fredriksson knows what this event means to the community.
“It’s not just about the race itself, but the gathering of the people and the community. That is the most important part of being there,” Fredriksson said. “Mount Baker has created a beautiful thing I have yet to see anywhere else in the world.”
The legacy of the first 20 racers will live on each year, as the community continues to gather at one of the biggest snowboarding events of the region to celebrate the sport.
Valeria Molina (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a junior majoring in Public Relations and International Business. In her free time, you will find her skiing at Mount Baker, thrifting, reading and listening to music with friends. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.