On snowboarding’s packed competition calendar, one event deserves to call itself legendary (and it does). The Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom is one of the country’s longest-running snowboard comps, having started in 1985 as a flowy ride through a naturally-formed halfpipe that snakes down the White Salmon side of the mountain. Today, the pioneering snowboarding event is also one of the last in which pros compete alongside amateurs. There’s no cash to be won, there’s no sponsored after-party—and that’s the point. The course is a thrill ride, the crowds are spirited, and everyone (pros included) is there to have a good time. Think of it as a huge reunion for boarding fiends—one where you also get to watch the sport’s best make high-speed turns on a huge, twisting course.
After a dry winter canceled the 2015 race, the Banked Slalom returned to northwest Washington determined to make its 30th year of competition the biggest yet. The multi-day event drew 473 riders, counting among their ranks pros like Terje Haakonsen, the event’s winningest male, and Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis. Even the snow gods seemed determined to get in on the action, dumping 32 inches over four days. As photographer and snowboarder John Webster discovered, the Banked Slalom is still the best display of the sport’s funhog spirit.
Photo: Turning may be the most basic move in the snowboarding, but it’s also the most demonstrative. Riders at the Banked Slalom need to know how to pick the fastest line and stay on it.