Hank Pantier

Earning Your Turns | SmartWool Slalom Event

Hank Pantier
Earning Your Turns | SmartWool Slalom Event

SmartWool hosts the Slash and Burn Banked Slalom

Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado was the backdrop for the 2nd Annual Slash & Burn Banked Slalom. This year SmartWool was proud to be a presenting sponsor of the event, which was held in our hometown. Under chilly temps but crystal clear skies, 238 competitors from around the country came to test their skills on two runs down a very challenging course.

What stared last year as a few friends putting on a small, local event turned into a full-fledged competition in its second year. Everyone had such a good time last year, the organizers decided to take it to the next level, complete with sponsor tents, giveaways and everyone’s favorite blue ribbon beer. Plus, this year riders got to enjoy nearly three times the turns as last year, with a top-to-bottom slalom course at the historic ski hill.

Banked Slaloms are by nature a labor of love. Each turn is hand dug–very little machine time was used to craft the course. And that means lots of hours spent digging and smoothing and making sure each rider gets a run for their money. The Slash and Burn course was no exception, giving each rider a challenging course that left hardly anyone laying down two clean runs. Starting right out of the gate, each unique turn leveled the playing field giving every rider a chance to reach the bottom in record time.

 
 

Banked Slalom events have a special place in Snowboarding. A Banked Slalom is about more than turns. It’s about a snowboarding community coming together. It’s about pushing your own limits and seeing how you stack up against your friends. But mostly it’s about inclusion. There’s no shortage of snowboarding competitions out there, but there aren’t many in which a six year old like Oscar Loeppert rides the exact same course as Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalists. That’s what the Slash & Burn is all about. It was a family affair, with kids not only spectating in oversized bibs and all-wheel drive strollers, but also ripping up the course and leaving no doubt as to the promising future of the sport. In keeping with the spirit of small grassroots events, a good chunk of the proceeds went to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club to help fund future generations of shredders.

By the end of the day you almost forgot that there was a contest going on. The atmosphere at the base looked more like a music festival than a snowboard contest. Of course, no banked slalom would be complete without an after party. After the races the masses headed over to a local tavern to listen to the music of famed snowboard photographer and musician Scott Sullivan and Casey Northern as they played tunes to a packed house.