The Last Ditch Effort Banked Slalom

The Good Kind of Crazy at Alpental, WA

“That thing looks crazy,” the skier said to no one in particular.

He was riding Alpental, WA’s Armstrong Express and looking straight down upon The Last Ditch Effort Banked Slalom course. Matt Wainhouse was putting the finishing touches on the lip of a jump—a 15-foot gap where the track steepened past a cliff. Blocks of snow, stacked like sandbags expecting a flood, reinforced the structure.

“Why’d you build it?” I asked Matt Edgers.

By now, it was Saturday afternoon. He and Waino and a half dozen others had been digging since Monday alongside Last Ditch mastermind Blair Habenicht and Summit-at-Snoqualmie parks guru Joe Pope. The weather had been nice for the duration—40-plus-degrees and sunny. Now, on the last dig day, it was raining.

“Well we were going to catwalk out the whole section under the cliff,” Edgers told me, “Then Blair said, ‘Why not just put a jump there?’”

Why not indeed. Work smarter, not harder. But the skier was right. Due to the jump being a mild step-down, you couldn’t see the landing til the last minute. It looked like you were going to air into oblivion. But it worked just right, as long as you didn’t ollie much. It was the good kind of crazy.

Arriving at lunchtime on Saturday, I’d seen the course go from a roughed-out concept to a hand-finished masterpiece, thanks to the addition of around twenty more diggers. A vertical drop-in led to ten swooping turns up top—crafted when Pope swung his snowcat through, according to Temple Cummins, “like he was riding the thing down a banked slalom.” Then the jump, a hard righthander, sweeping left, a bit more air and into a g-force-inducing over-vert clamshell before three more sweepers took you to the finish line.

There was a ride-around option on the jump, too, which was nice, because the event was an inclusive one: mega-groms (ages 8-to10) and snowskaters would show for Sunday. Airtime was only required for Pro Men, but they weren’t the only ones who hit the gap. And if you were moving at speed, there were a few more spots where launching was unavoidable over the 60-second-or-so snake line. Basically, it was the most fun you could have on a snowboard, in the rain, on a Sunday in late April.

Registration had filled up in just 48 hours, then pushed past the 140-person cap. All told, 155 souls would hurl themselves down the line as rain interfered with the timing system, and the wet snow would run fast and smooth. By the time awards rolled around, the skies began to clear, in a classic case of WA State irony. But nobody minded the moisture. “The funnest slalom course I’ve ever ridden,” was a common claim, proof that the week-long dig, the battle against an 8-inch-per-day melt, were well worth it.

As for how the race went, 2nd place Women’s Am finisher Mary Fenton summed it up in a poem:


Stay low. Be powerful. Choose your mantra.


Stay up. Stay high. Keep it clean.


Blast off.

Hang on.

Shit, wallride.

Double that roller.

Oh fuck, fishbowl vertigo.

Stay low. 

But it hurts.

Am I breathing?


And scene.

Fingers snap. Lights on. Collapse.

Welcome back.

A huge thanks to Blair Habenicht, Jenell Turner, Joe Pope and the Summit-at-Snoqualmie crew, all the diggers and sponsors who made it happen. We’ve got your top finisher below, and you can see the full results at thelastditcheffort.com.


  1. Temple Cummins
  2. Phil Hansen
  3. Jay Kelly


  1. Andrea Graham
  2. Marni Yamada
  3. Zoe Vernon


  1. Dan Scanlon
  2. Josh Rosen
  3. Jackson Scanlan


  1. Julia Vasiliauskas
  2. Mary Fenton
  3. Kathryn Irish

MASTERS MEN (40-plus)

  1. Marcel Dolak
  2. Kurt Jenson
  3. Jake Tomlinson


  1. Weeg Simmons
  2. Jaime Klontz
  3. Jenny Tofe

YOUTH BOYS (14-18)

  1. Milo Malkoski
  2. Mac Malkoski
  3. Ezra Northern


  1. Ariah West
  2. Judy Celovsky


  1. Matt Cummins
  2. Paul Ferel
  3. Johan Malkoski

GROMS (8-10)

  1. Jade Knox
  2. Max Stanford
  3. Avery Simmons

GROMS (11-13)

  1. Cannon Cummins
  2. Marlon Beckett
  3. Laird Ferel


  1. Alan Gerlach
  2. Adrian Rasmussen
  3. Jake Tomlinson

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