The A-Rob Smash Life banked slalom series has grown and evolved since the inaugural 2012 event at Big Sky, MT. The original idea has always been to honor a fallen friend by bringing the community together to support a good cause—the A-Rob Plant A Seed Project—with camaraderie, fun and high-speed boarding. The two-stop tour wrapped up at a new location this past weekend after the earlier stop at Alpental, WA: Saturday, January 21st was the inaugural Lost Trail Smash Life Banked Slalom.
Lost Trail is a bit off the beaten track. Straddling the Montana/Idaho border along Highway 93 it’s a quintessential, family owned and operated community hill that has been “helping folks enjoy themselves for over 76 years.”
That simple mission of enabling enjoyment matches up pretty good with the ideals of the Smash Life series. Yet the connection to LT deepens when you consider that it was one of A-Rob’s favorite places to ride in his home state of Montana. A-Rob’s prowess atop large pillow stacks matched the terrain on offer perfectly.
To the race: twenty-one hand-shaped banked turns comprised the course. It zig-zagged its way through the trees up top, before opening onto a steep face and falling away to a high speed finish with Pam Robinson giving out hugs at the bottom. Over twenty volunteers spent the days leading up to race day shoveling and shaping. Course construction was directed by Kyle Miller. A very talented rider and racer, Kyle put together a course he described as “steep and tight with speed A-Rob would appreciate.” Given that A-Rob was the type of rider who straight lined Alaska peaks, that’s fast.
The action commenced at 10am and ran all the way to 4pm to get all 130 racers through. With a best-of-two-runs format, the racers ran back to back, leaving plenty of time for freeriding before and after heats. Aaron’s older brother Jason Robinson emerged from his travels to post the fastest time of the day, winning the Men’s open division with a smoking 49.68 second run. Galen Bridgewater took the Women’s Open division title with a 54.53. Joe Pope put up a 53.06 to take home the title of grumpiest old man. Micah Hoogeven and Kiana Putman are the two talented riders who did well enough in both the Washington and Montana races to claim the overall title and a coveted spot in the 2017 Mt Baker Legendary Banked Slalom in less than a month’s time.
Although the race brings everyone together at the Smash Life events, it’s the overall experience that keeps riders coming back year after year. Simply put, it’s a damn good time. The camaraderie is thick between old friends and individuals that have seen it through the past six years, drawn together by a friend who was a great enabler of fun. The welcoming hello and inclusion to newcomers around the bonfire in the parking lot keeps those relationships growing and leads to freeride sessions to remember, ripping around from one big group of friends to another. It’s an embodiment of A-Rob’s approach to snowboarding and life: immersing yourself in the experience and having fun within that moment.