Hosting an event at a ski resort in March means the weather can be anything from 50+ degrees and sunny, or a wintery mix of rain and snow… last weekend, we got the latter at Blauvelt’s Banks slalom.
What Is a Banked Slalom?
Before we get into the recap, we need to answer the question: “What is a Banked Slalom?”
For those that don’t know, it’s a timed downhill race, featuring obstacles such as snow banks, rollers, and small jumps. The goal is simple, stay inside of the gates and complete the course with the lowest possible time. The F1 racing of snowboarding, if you will.
Banked Slaloms are the hottest thing in snowboarding right now, and for good reason! A Banked Slalom can be hosted at any mountain small or large. They created a venue for a community to get together, get competitive and catch up for the first time “since… 2019, yeah! I saw you right before covid hit.” We heard that line about 20 times on Saturday.
Despite the popularity of these events, Jake Blauvelt created something special with Blauvelt’s Banks.
Building a Skate Park, Building a Community
For starters, New England and Vermont are home to retired pro boarders, pioneers of the sport and most importantly, people who are willing to endure horrible conditions just for a few good days of snowboarding. This lethal combination makes the Blauvelt’s Banks’ riders list a spectacle on its own.
Jake has done an amazing job of creating an event that represents the type of rider he is and the state he’s from. Bolton Valley, one of the few family owned ski resorts in Vermont, is the perfect venue for the event. It’s Jake’s home mountain, and a local favorite of North-East powder hounds.
Days before the event, local riders come out to help Jake hand-shape the course, local breweries brew beers specific to the event, and a local manufacturer provides socks for every competitor (that’s us). Are you starting to get the idea? Local pro snowboarder hosts an event in his hometown and brings the community together.
But WAIT, there’s more… All proceeds from the event go directly to the construction of a new concrete skatepark in Waterbury, VT. You could say we are particularly fond of this cause, given the skatepark is 5 minutes from our office. However, picking this cause speaks volumes to the commitment Jake has to improving his own backyard. With a vision like that, we didn't think twice about joining as the title sponsor.
2022 Blauvelt's Banks Recap
Alright, let’s get into it. On Saturday, March 12th, all eyes were on the forecast. Snow started to fall at 3 am (coincidentally the same time most racers woke up to wax their boards). After braving the access road to Bolton Valley Ski Resort, riders met in the parking lot around 7 am to gear up and reconnect with old friends.
Registration opened at 7:30 am, where racers were met with a table of free snowboard socks and Jake Blauvelt himself. You know the event really is about the community when the guy on the poster is the one checking you in.
Around 9:30 am, racers made their way to the top of the course and took their practice laps. The lift lines and race corral were filled with comments like, “If you can keep your speeds in the top section, the rest is smooth sailing,” “I’m feeling good on all of it except for the double jump in the middle,” and “damn, my feet are warm from the free socks I picked up at registration.”
After everyone got a few practice laps in, Jake addressed the masses, thanking them for coming out, supporting a great cause, and showing up ready to race. After this address, the contest was officially underway.
The groms (under 15) dropped in first and showed everyone that being from Vermont has its benefits, especially when it comes to riding in variable conditions. Most of the U15 racers put up times that would compete in the AM & Open divisions.
Following the groms were the snow skaters. This was the spectacle of the day. Men and women race down a death-defying course with nothing connecting them to their boards beside a foam pad or rubber spikes. The snow skaters boasted the most bails on course; however, this group definitely had the most fun.
After the snow skaters, the AMs approached the start gate. Not old enough for “legends,” and too proud to sign up for Pro / Open, these riders descended on the course and showed everyone that you don’t need to be a fancy title to put up a solid time.
The time has come, Open / Pro men and women strap in and grab the cold metal start gate. The prize packs and trophies don’t interest this group, these riders are racing for one thing, and one thing only: Bragging Rights. They drop in and show us that prizes don’t matter, the only thing that really matters is being faster than everyone else… and they were. Bringing in the fastest times of the day, this group reminded everyone that snowboarders aren't materialistic, they just want to go fast.
Last and certainly not least, the legends. The 40+ year olds that most likely have “been snowboarding longer than you’ve been alive” scrape their wax and race through the berms. Speed is no issue for this group, with years of experience and boards tuned to perfection, they proved that snowboarding is strong with the group that pioneered it.
Classic Vermont Weather
Unfortunately, after run one, our good friend Vermont stole the show. Due to increasing winds (think 30+ mph gusts), Jake made the decision to end the event early and tally everyone times to determine the winners. Riders who put up a good time on run one loved the decisions and those that fell… not so much.
Despite ending early, the community gathering that was the awards ceremony saved the day. Old friends reconnected, “Instagram friends” met IRL, racers bonded over the technicalities of the course, and everyone kept talking about how stoked they were on their new snowboard socks.
At the end of the day, Jake did an amazing job of connecting a community that is quite literally in his own backyard. And everyone involved could drive down the access road knowing they played a crucial role in providing a new recreation space for the town of Waterbury.
Thanks for including us, Jake.