Slash and Burn Banked Slalom brings fun energy, big talent | SteamboatToday.com

Slash and Burn Banked Slalom brings fun energy, big talent

Austin Colbert

— It's not even been two months since Steamboat Springs snowboarder Matt Ladley surprisingly won X Games gold in the half-pipe, instantly taking his career to a summit even he might never have known existed. But, to think his newfound superstardom would keep him from returning home to compete in a local event would be dead wrong.

"I just finished up with my contest season last week, and to come home and do this, I couldn't be happier," Ladley said. "It's a different contest, so it's a lot of fun. It's totally different than the high-pressure stuff I'm used to. I get out here and have a bunch of fun with the boys."

Ladley was referring to Saturday's third annual Slash & Burn Banked Slalom, held at Howelsen Hill. The event is quickly turning into a Steamboat mainstay, a unique race that combines the pace of Alpine racing with the berms and chaotic nature of downhill mountain biking.

Despite the high-end talent — among the other athletes competing Saturday was 2014 Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington — the race felt more like a backcountry camping trip with best friends than a serious competition.

Not that winning wasn't still fun.

"This is just a really good event for everybody. It's fun to get old friends and get them together," said Breckenridge's Jake Black. "All three of us that were on the podium are super close friends … we competed all over the place, so it's just fun to get everyone here. It's good for smack talk later."

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Black, also an accomplished snowboarder, won the men's open division of Saturday's race with a time of 59.37 seconds; he was the only competitor of nearly 100 men's open racers to break the one-minute mark. Black also won the inaugural Slash & Burn event two years ago and just missed out on a podium in 2015.

In second and third were Black's lifelong friends, Ladley (1:00.43) and Davis Johnson (1:01.74), formerly of Steamboat. Ladley was especially excited to get the chance to finally compete in the hometown event after other obligations kept him from doing so the first two years it was held.

"It was a good, out-of-control time. You are on that verge of disaster, just trying to hang on, which makes it fun," Ladley said. "First run was good. Then, second run, I was trying to chase Jake down, and he just posted a good score. I lost it on one of those berms, and that's how it us. You go all or nothing. It looks kind of mellow, but it's not. It's pretty wild in there."

The women's open class stayed in-house, with Tori Koski, snowboard program director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and main architect behind creating the Slash & Burn Banked Slalom, taking first place.

Her time of 1:08.89 edged out second-place Celia Miller (1:10.70) and Steamboat's Savanna Atkins (1:12.18). Koski said she plans to donate her share of the winnings to the SSWSC.

"It gets bigger and better every year," Koski said of the race. "More people, more hype. The event brings the entire snowboard community together. It went incredible. I think it gets better and better every year. Hopefully, by the 10th annual Slash and Burn Banked Slalom, it will be so much better."

The amateur men's podium (ages 18 to 34) included first-place finisher Jason Blair (1:08.50), Andrew Wight (1:08.91) and Buddy Bowes (1:09.88). The amateur women's podium included winner Jenna Shlachter (1:24.12), Allison Berger (1:25.81) and Kim Chotvacs (1:28.89).

The men's master class (ages 35 and up) was won by Spencer Tamblyn in 1:06.72, followed by runner-up Jay Isaacs (1:06.80) and third-place finisher Scott Loeppert (1:07.84). The women's master class podium included winner Kelly Greenlee (1:26.56), Listle Isaacs (1:36.31) and Erin Pashley (1:51.64).

"It's a fun community. Obviously, everyone knows everyone here," Ladley said. "It's not new, but it's kind of coming back, as in that fun event that everyone wants to go home to with all their friends. They pull it off perfectly here."

Previously a one-day event, this year's version was split into two days. Sunday, the Slash & Burn Banked Slalom will conclude with the grom, youth and teens racing down Howelsen. Check-in starts at 9 a.m. in Olympian Hall, with practice sessions allowed from 10 to 11 a.m.

First runs are scheduled for 11:30 a.m., second runs at 1:30 p.m. and awards at 3:30 p.m.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert