A-Rob’s Smash Life Banked Slalom: Riding, Racing and Love at Alpental

A-Rob’s Smash Life Banked Slalom at Alpental, WA went off this past Saturday in ideal conditions: deep in the backcountry, hammering wind, and a full minute of pow berms. It was exactly as Aaron would have wanted it and, as contest organizer Joe Pope explained during the rider’s meeting, “This contest is about riding first, racing second and love always.”

Party laps were encouraged, posting times, optional. While the fastest racers were getting through in the 53-second range, for many it was hard to resist surf-slashing fresh on the top of the banks. With a whole section of Alpy’s lower mountain roped off for racers, a fall meant freshies to the bottom and another lap to rebate—it was, after all, jam format, and you could post as many times as you felt reasonable. However, most of the racers, myself included, settled on one clean line and then made for the upper mountain’s stacked pillows and ledges—if Aaron was there, this is what I imagine he would have done as well.

By the time awards rolled around at 5pm, many continued to smash pow under the lights, others retiring to the parking lot for a few beverages. In the end, Thadius Hukari narrowly edged out Marcel Dolak for fastest time of the day with a 53.53 and 53.89, respectively—Robyn Borneman took the ladies title with a 1:00.14. Over 160 competitors all left the mountain smiling, and a generous percentage of them stuck around to watch A-Rob’s “Manifest and the Big Sky two piece The Riot Act—for whom co-organizer of the event Shane Stalling plays drums and drinks whiskey—rocking until they were told they had to leave. “We got to do an event for Aaron at his favorite resort in blower pow,” Stalling said. “If they hadn’t asked us to leave the lodge, we wouldn’t have been doing it right.”

“Everyone knew how Aaron was,” added Pope. “And if you liked that vibe, there’s a good chance you had a great time at the event. We got to do the first ever banked slalom at Alpental in deep snow, the deepest I’ve ever seen at an event, and that was a perfect tribute to Aaron. Just watching everyone hike laps above the course, that’s what Aaron would have been doing. It definitely felt like he was there with us.”

With a follow-up powder day on Sunday, Pope was able to get his turns after a week of hard work and led us around some of the lesser known nooks and crannies of The Summit before a late evening departure and some well-deserved rest. A huge thank you goes out to Joe Pope, Shane Stalling, all the diggers and riders for an amazing event.

Smash life—smash powder. Aaron would.


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