With temperatures nearing 50 degrees Fahrenheit it feels like a pleasant spring day at the Mt. Baker Ski Area, and the weather isn’t the only thing bringing the heat this weekend. Snowboarders from around the area are putting down some seriously fast times at the annual Locals Qualifier, each vying for their spot in the 32nd Mt Baker Legendary Banked Slalom.
Unlike previous Locals Qualifiers, this year’s event was split into two days instead of one. On Sunday morning, the snow was nearly ice, until the sun rose past Mt. Shuksan and warmed it into slush. Racers dropped in quick succession within their respective divisions, broken up by age: Older Amateurs, Women Amateurs, Men Masters, Women Masters, Women MidGrands, Mid-Masters Men, and Grand Masters Men. Monday’s races featured five more: Next Gen Boys, Next Gen Girls, Juniors, Younger Amateurs, and Pro Men.
The course was meticulously shaped, and between racer divisions it would be slipped and maintained to keep the turns fast and the times low. Eliah Drake, Mt. Baker’s events coordinator, said the first two turns of the course were an immediate challenge for the racers, but the third was his and many others’ favorite berm of the bunch.
Following the races riders gathered outside of Mt Baker’s base lodges, basking in the sun after a long day on the slopes. Who knew we would need to bring out the sunscreen in the Pacific Northwest mid-January? Here’s to the cold front that’s coming this weekend, and to the powder it’ll bring. With snow on the way the mountain will be ready for the upcoming Legendary Banked Slalom, which is only a month away. The real question is: Will you be?
Thank you to Duncan, Gwyn, Amy, Eliah and the crew at Mt. Baker Ski Area, to the dedicated course shapers, and to everyone else who took part in making this year’s Locals Qualifier a great one. We’ll see you at the start shack for the big show next month. In the meantime, see our recap of last year’s Legendary Banked Slalom here.