B4BC Wellness Ambassador Megan Pischke headed up to Washington to compete in the 30th Annual Legendary Baker Banked Slalom over the weekend. Buckle up and “Say Your Prayers” for her recap of the legendary event, and get ready to strap on your own board!
Every year, a bunch of us snowboarders head to Mt. Baker in Washington to compete for duct tape and Pendleton blankets. Sounds crazy, and it’s kind of hard to explain, but we all want that coveted piece of spray painted duct tape nailed to a piece of granite somewhere in our space. This event draws everyone is from all over the globe. This years’ 30th Legendary Banked Slalom was definitely one of my most memorable weekends of all time. There were rainbows over the finish line (no joke!), there was sun, there were storms, there was ice, there was slush, there was powder, and yes, there were ravens. And there were some pretty damn fun and somewhat serious (the finals) banked turns. Like every other year, this event was pure magic. And besides the natural beauty, it’s the people that make this weekend what it is. It’s the Howat family who have stood true to our sport for over 30 years and kept it a “no cash prize” and no skiing event. With no money on the line, all the riders are motivated to win based purely on the idea of competing for competitions sake. This event started 30 years ago with 6 volunteers, most of them the Howat family. Now there are over 100 volunteers that make this event safe and fun for everyone.
It is also the athletes, of all abilities, all ages, all levels, who come together to have fun, to push each other, to inspire, to pay homage to a sport and its inhabitants, here and gone. For me it’s to be on the same course as some of my heros of snowboarding: Terje Haakonsen, Maelle Ricker, 60 year-old Jeanie Debari, and the 2016 winner of the next generation girls, Juliette Pelchat (who ate sand at my wedding 11 years ago). And brings tears to my eyes to know I am a part of this cultural history that brings so much love to a sport and the outdoors. And these aren’t just regular people. All of these sideways sports souls have contributed, created and shaped this industry into a lifestyle, where I am proud to raise my children and look forward to them dropping in someday soon!
Our family and three other Whistler families camped out in the parking lot in RVs. It was even better than I imagined, and can’t believe it took me 15 years to do it. We are all like-minded people, and felt good to just set all our kids free in the wild outdoors together. Having to beg your kids to get inside when its puking snow and nearly 10 p.m. is kind of the way we like to live. The moon rising over Mt. Shucksan was magic, and everyday waking up to the snow and mountains greeting us really cultivated the vibes I needed to be peaceful and not stress out before dropping in.
This years event was different, as they needed to accommodate nearly 400 athletes. Usually its 250-ish. With only a certain amount of daylight, they divided the days up from three to four. Day 1 and 2: qualifying for all usual groups and sponsored riders. Day 3: qualifying day for Legends and other industry folk. Day 4: finals, with combined winners from all three days. Saturdays race was so much fun to watch, with a group of dudes that raced on the boards they used 20+ years ago. Craig Kelly, Chris Brunkhard and Tom Sims were smiling down on all of us and probably laughing too. Speed suits, Sims Switchblades, and even a Craig Kelly Burton racing suit worn by Vancouver local TP—and he actually won!
Day 3: I was channeling in some of my husbands speed and excitement, as he had qualified 2nd the previous day in the “pro men” category. It must have worked, because I actually qualified! With only a handful of days riding this season, I felt like I got lucky with beautiful sun and visibility, as well as a wicked board tune from Johan at Underground tuning—sometimes the wax definitely makes it!
The finals started out with some great views, and awesome runs. I know I wasn’t the only one tearing up when the grom girls dropped in. It brought me back to that place in my life where snowboarding with my friends was all that existed. Watching Billy Anderson’s 7 year-old daughter, Mt. Baker local Madrona Raney, and my hometown local girls Juliette and Maggie, just really made my day. To get hugs from my daughter and all those girls right before I dropped in is just unexplainable. I was in third for a hot minute, and could almost taste the duct tape, and finally ended up 4th, missing the duct tape by just a few seconds. I’ll definatley be heading back next year for the chase, and imagine us all SAYING OUR PRAYERS at this event for many years to come. Thank you snowboarding for being a life to be proud of.