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The glory beheld: the 25th Annual Legendary Banked Slalom

Mt. Baker, Washington. Enchanting. The stunning panorama of jagged peaks caked in snow, veneered by blue glaciers and dappled with evergreens is a dreams-come-true smack to the brain, right through the eyes. So giddy, so tingly, am I 5 or 25? I don’t know, but the crisp air and powder-sugar snow are beckoning me to the hills. And then, round the lodge, the excitement unleashes. The festivities of the 25th annual Legendary Banked Slalom are in full swing: hordes of people (by Baker’s standards), colorful industry tents, music and drifting bbq haze. It’s bluebird, and the angels are singing. On course, the racing is going down– in history.

After two days of qualifying, local luminary Temple Cummins took Men’s Pro with a time of 1:43.08 and Whistler’s Maelle Rinker topped all other Pro Women with a time of 1:49.88. Both nabbed their fourth duct-tape trophy on Sunday. Seems only Saturday saw those spring-like conditions, and Billy and I had happened upon it. Most of those who’d come to watch the region’s longest running, deepest-rooted snowboard contest were hungover after Friday night’s parties, creating a mellow atmosphere in the hinterland. Sunday was back to low-visibility, but that didn’t cloud the presentation of the celebrated Craig Kelly award given this year to Dan Donnelly, who was there with Kelly when it all began. The more time one spends in the NW mountains, the more the stories from snowboarding’s roots emerge, slowly, to those quiet enough to listen. This is where snowboarding began. If you need an explanation as to why, you don’t belong here. If you want to continue the tradition, let the stories and their legends be your guide.

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