Banked slalom steps up to Steamboat Ski Area | SteamboatToday.com

Banked slalom steps up to Steamboat Ski Area

Maddy Schaffrick, a coach with Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, flies down the face of Howelsen Hill during last year's Slash and Burn Banked Slalom race.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Five years in and the Slash and Burn Banked Slalom has outgrown its original course.

The late-season snowboarding race has been a spring staple at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs, but Tori Koski, the snowboard director at Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the director for the banked slalom event, got the chance to move the event across town to Steamboat Ski Area, and she jumped at that opportunity.

"It's been great doing it at Howelsen, but we're happy to bring the Winter Sports Club and Steamboat Ski Resort back together," Koski said.

The banked slalom returns with its truly unique racing starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in Bashor Bowl on the lower slopes of Mount Werner.

The racers in youth divisions will start things off early and the adults will take over about 10 a.m. and race through the afternoon to an awards ceremony scheduled for 5 p.m. in Gondola Square.

The banked slalom event is unlike anything on the local snowboarding calendar. Rather than cut around gates or lay down tricks, Saturday's event challenges riders with big, steep banks and tight curved corners. It pulls together some of the signature elements of snowboarding with those sweeping, stylish turns.

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The event, started in 2014 on the slopes of Howelsen Hill, has expanded quickly, even again this year. Last year's race drew about 250 snowboaders. This years will send at least 320 across the starting line.

Some are those young riders, still relatively new to the sport. Others, however, are among the world's best, and this year the roster will include several Olympians from last month's 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Steamboat Springs snowboarder Mick Dierdorff will be there to race and he's coming off the best season of his life. Last week he placed second in a World Cup snowboard cross event, and last month he competed in his first Olympics, riding to a fifth-place finish.

Chris Corning will be there, as well, after his own incredible season. Corning made the Olympic team in big air and slopestyle. He just missed an Olympic medal with a fourth-place finish in that big air event, then won the final World Cup slopestyle event of the season to secure the overall World Cup season title in that event.

"We will have everyone from Olympians like Mick and Chris down to five- and six-year-old riders and their parents," Koski said. "We’ll have families of four and a family of five competing on the same day on the same course."

Bashor offers the opportunity to build an ideal course, Koski said, and to do it a little easier than can be done on the steeper slopes of Howelsen Hill.

"We have been able to be really creative. It looks pretty similar, but it uses the natural terrain," she said.

A barbecue will await riders at the bottom of the course and the event area should be hopping all day, from the children in the morning to a 3 p.m. switch (backward) race in the afternoon that will act as the event's finale.

"The course will be so fun and creative and it's for all levels of snowboarding," Koski said. “We're really excited to bring this back and it's going to be super fun."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.