Banked slalom back for third winter | SteamboatToday.com

Banked slalom back for third winter

Maria Ramberger, 2015's women's open class winner, hits the final turn of the Howelsen Hill banked slalom. The event returns Saturday and Sunday. It's been a one-day ordeal in the past, but this year has outgrown that with 300 riders expected to compete.

— Tori Koski didn't realize what she was getting into three years ago when she first strove to bring a banked slalom snowboard race to Steamboat Springs.

She's well aware now, however, and she's intent on building the event into one of the snowboarding staples of Steamboat Springs winters.

The Slash & Burn Banked Slalom event returns to Howelsen Hill on Saturday and Sunday bigger than its ever been. Koski is expecting at least 300 riders to carve their way down the hill and have a heck of a time doing it.

"What's so fun," she said, "is it brings all snowboarders together, sharing their love for the sport."

Banked slalom events have their roots in Alpine snowboard racing, but bring a splash of downhill mountain biking. Rather than a typical course with gates that require navigation, a banked slalom event has high berms on the turns that allow riders to keep their speed.

The best part, Koski said, is that banked slalom can be an event for all riders.

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Young riders simply can't jump into a 22-foot professional half-pipe. They can't fly over the giant jumps used in professional slopestyle events, either.

Still, when Steamboat hosted a banked slalom event last year, young Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club riders raced the same course as Olympic gold medalists.

"It's really for the entire snowboarding community," Koski said.

This year's course could prove the best yet.

Making a banked slalom course takes seriously dedicated Snowcat work, and previous versions have been on the flanks of Howelsen's steep face.

As the downtown Steamboat Springs venue closed for the season last week, this year's course is right down the middle, bigger and better than ever.

"Howelsen's a unique hill, and we can showcase everyone's riding," Koski said.

The action starts Saturday with the open division, expected to draw more than 200 riders. Big prizes, including $2,200 set aside in a prize purse, will await the fastest, while a beer garden will await both the fast and the slow, as well as anyone else who comes by.

The youth riders take to the hill Sunday, and they'll have prizes, too, including snowboards, outerwear and other goodies from sponsors.

Banked slalom schedule

Saturday

8 a.m. — Practice

9:30 — 1st run

1:30 p.m. — Finals, with top 100 men, 30 women

3 — Switch race ($5, winner take all)

5 — Awards and party

Sunday

10 a.m. — Practice

11:30 — 1st runs

1:30 p.m. — 2nd runs

3:30 p.m. — Awards