The Olympics are a big deal, no question, but for many snowboarders the annual Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom (LBS) is sacred. It dates back to 1985, the earliest days of snowboarding, and takes place on a course that uses the natural terrain at Mt. Baker to create a bermed race course.
While other events have come and gone or become commercialized, the LBS remains a low-key, grass roots kind of event, despite the fact that some of the biggest names in the sport come back to race year after year.
One of those riders is Whistler's Maëlle Ricker. She did the banked slalom for the first time four seasons ago and as of this weekend she remains undefeated.
She won the Pro Women's category in 1:49.88. She was followed by Marni Yamada and Maria DeBari. Her next event in the Olympic snowboardcross.
Rob Fagan, who is also competing in the Olympics in snowboardcross, placed second in the men's race, behind local rider Temple Cummins. Teammate Tom Velisek was 11 th .
Alpine riders tune up at Batchelor
Looking to stay sharp before the Olympics Canada's alpine snowboard team headed to a FIS Nor-Am race at Mt. Batchelor, Oregon last week.
While the field was not as strong as a World Cup it represented another opportunity to test new equipment and their extreme weather riding skills, given that they were racing through a snowstorm.
The Canadian women swept the podium with Alexa Loo edging Caroline Calve in the gold medal dual. Kimiko Zakreski defeated teammate Ariane Lavigne in the small final to take the bronze.
Michael Lambert edged out U.S. rider Chris Klug in the final dual, while Jasey-Jay Anderson won the small final to place third.
The event also represented the return of Matt Morison to racing after the Olympic hopeful broke his elbow in December.
In the giant slalom the next day Caroline Calve placed first, followed by Kimiko Zakreski and Alexa Loo.
Michael Lambert made it two in a row, while teammate Matthew Morison climbed the podium to second place.
Local riders top Burton Open
The Burton Canadian Open swept into Calgary's Canada Olympic Park last weekend, with a strong group of international riders in its wake.
Canadians were solid overall, especially in the halfpipe event.
Justin Lamoureux followed up on his World Cup silver medal the previous week with a second place finish behind Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov. Dustin Craven, the only other Canadian to make the finals (top 16), finished 14 th .
Three Canadians made the finals (top eight) of the women's halfpipe, with Sarah Conrad and Mercedes Nicoll placing second and third and Palmer Taylor a respectable sixth.
There was also a slopestyle contest. Whistler's Jon Versteeg placed second to Brett Esser of the U.S., while Whistler Valley Snowboard Club alumnus Robby Balharry, now living in Canmore, placed third.
No Canadians made the women's slopestyle podium, but Breanna Strangleand came close, finishing fourth.
The Burton series continues in March with the U.S. Open of Snowboarding.
Quest provides soccer training academy
The Squamish Under-18 Gold rep team, which also includes three players from Whistler and two from Pemberton, got a boost last week with the creation of the Quest University Football Academy. The Academy will host practices and attend tournaments from the beginning of March through the end of May, with players working with certified coaches three times a week.
The Academy is open to 18-20 players from Sea to Sky between the ages of 16 and 18, the same age as the Squamish rep team and the Sea to Sky tournament team that had so much success over the summer.
The cost is $250, which includes a jersey and practice shirts and entry into three tournaments (Burnaby, Kelowna and Kamloops). Quest is supporting the program by waiving the cost of using their turf field. There is some funding support available to players in financial need.
Tryouts take place on Thursday, March 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Friday March 5 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Interested players should make both sessions.
From there a handful of players will be invited to the third try-out on Monday, March 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. to form the final squad of academy players.
To try out you have to pre-register with team manager Peter Shrimpton at firstname.lastname@example.org.