Photo: Lib Tech / Tim Zimmerman
Snowboarding competition has come a long way since Jake Burton & Andy Coghlan raced slalom on wooden Backhills or Tom Sims & Terry Kidwell hand dug ditches in the Tahoe Backcountry to determine who had the most style.
We tried to push the envelope ourselves with Supernatual & Ultra Natural events in Baldface and even keep the fun alive with Hullabaluge.
With the influence of the Olympics, TV broadcasts, sponsors and snowboard moms all trying to find the next gold medalist, I thought it would be useful to look at all the comps taking place in the 2014-2015 season — both formal & informal — that legitimately make up the competition landscape.
While we may never determine who truly is the “best” snowboarder on the planet – if there really is such a thing – we can certainly gather around the proverbial fires of “us vs. them” and throw down some hammers and hijinks along the way.
So place your stickers, fire up your engines and I’ll see you at the start gate.
Baker Banked Slalom
Dates: Feb 19-22, 2015
Location: Mt Baker, Washington
The Legendary Baker Banked – from Jamie Lynn to Terje Haakonsen, no other snowboarding comp brings respect and revelry like the Baker Banked. Held on the hallowed hills of Mt Baker, which holds the world record for most snowfall on Earth (1,140 inches), the course of the Baker Banked is long, fast and challenging. Many riders can barely complete it without their legs giving out, nevermind garnering a time worthy of a podium. But for those who can muscle through the pulse-pounding banks after dropping in from the famous start shack, the glory of a Gold roll of duct tape awaits. That along with a storied place in the annals of snowboarding history.
Dates: December 12-14, 2014
Location: Mt Bachelor, OR
Josh Dirksen brought the mystique of the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom closer to his home in Bend Oregon by launching the Dirksen Derby at Mt Bachelor eight years ago. The effort was humanitarian as well with all proceeds being donated to a Bend, Oregon local Tyler Eklund, who was tragically paralyzed in a snowboarding accident. The event attracts legends and upstarts along with novelty participants like North Shore surf legend Gerry Lopez who now calls Bend home.
Dirksen Derby 2013 from Snowboarder Magazine on Vimeo.
Dick’s Ditch Classic
Location: Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole brings its own version of Banked Slalom via the Dick’s Ditch Classic. There’s no place like home and for me this is must attend event. Dick’s is one of the gnarliest natural riverbeds at Jackson and converts nicely to a burley banked slalom course loaded with rollers, gaps, bumps and jumps that draw locals and legends alike.
Aaron Robinson Smash Life Banked Slalom
Dates: January 10-11, 2014
Location: Big Sky, Montana
The news of Aaron Robinson’s untimely death in 2011 was tragic. A pure talent and total charger, A-Rob defined a commitment and passion to snowboarding, which he took off the mountain via his Plant-a-Seed foundation, a non-profit that helps underprivileged kids access the joys of snowboarding. Aaron’s brother Jason Robinson keeps the flame alive via the Smashlife Banked Slalom in Big Sky to help raise money for Plant-A-Seed and memorialize A-Rob. It’s a great cause and a great event on a really fun course.
JLA Mammoth Banked Slalom
Dates: March 27-29, 2015
Location: Mammoth Mountain, CA
The JLA Banked is another awesome memorial event in honor of the late Jeff Anderson, a former Burton & Volcom athlete and Mammoth local who was an incredible artist and ambassador to snowboarding. The JLA Banked Slalom at Mammoth enters its third year and features a course adjacent to Mammoth’s Chair 12. It’s super fun and challenging, attracting a slew of industry bros from Socal, which invariably results in a party worthy of attending.
Home Run Invitational
Location: Bellwald, Switzerland
If you can make it over to Europe, the Home Run Invitational at Bellwald, Switzerland is a can’t miss. Hosted by the venerable Nicolas Muller and a crew of 100 enthusiastic Euros, famous for their hospitality, the Home Run Invitational is a Grand Slam good time.
Rat Race Mt Hood
Dates: July, 2015
Location: Mt. Hood, OR
The boys from We Drink Water kicked of the Rat Race at Mt Hood in July of 2011 and have continued the summer tradition of banked slalom silliness at the home of High Cascade Snowboard Camp. Another gathering of northwest heavies, the Rat Race pulls in riders like Temple Cummins, Preston Strout, Tim Eddy, Desiree Melancon, Jake Price, Curtis Ciszek and even Terje Haaksonsen.
Air & Style
Dec 5th & 6th, 2014 Beijing
January 16th & 17th Innsbruck, Austria
February 21st & 22nd Los Angeles, CA
Shaun White’s purchase of the Air & Style and his later inclusion of freeskiers will likely make for a “made for TV” experience that corporate sponsors will line up for. Ultimately any opportunity to get good prize money in riders’ pockets and snowboarding on TV is a chance to grow the enthusiasm and support for the sport.
Grand Prix Series
Copper Mountain, CO – Dec 1-6, 2014
Mammoth Mountain, CA – February 2-7, 2015
Park City, UT – February 23-March 1, 2015
The US Grand Prix at Mammoth held the snowboarding world’s attention last year as it acted as the final qualifying event for the Sochi Olympics. The Grand Prix Series, with events in Copper, Park City and Mammoth continue to be an important stage for the world’s best halfpipe and slope style riders competing for bragging rights, sponsor dollars and Olympic dreams.
Dates: Spring 2015
Location: Mammoth Mountain, CA
Snowboarder Magazine’s The Launch is a premiere event that identifies the newest crop of up-and-coming rippers in an invite-only park competition that doubles as a large feature in the magazine. For any aspiring park rider looking to launch his or her career to the next level, attending and sending it at the Launch is paramount!
Graduating from the Launch typically means an invitation to Superpark, the longest running and most notorious park event in the world. Hosted by Snowboarder Magazine, Superpark was and is today the place where progression takes place for both the riders and the park builders who build and session massive jumps, jibs and other features that are the foundation of this annual park progression party.
Dates: April 3-12, 2015
Location: Valdez, AK
Former Snowboarder Magazine editor Mark Sullivan launched Tailgate Alaska in 2008 to provide a means for average riders to experience Alaska snowboarding in an economical manner. The first “tailgate” held at Thompson Pass outside of Valdez had only of handful of participants. The event now draws almost 500 tailgaters who enjoy access to the Chugach Range via sled and heli and who accurately state the two-week event produces the most amazing runs of their entire lives.
Freeride World Tour
January 24, 2015 – Chamonix
January 31, 2015 – Fieberbrun, Austria
February 14, 2015 – Vallnord Arcalis Andorra
March 14, 2015 – Haines, Alaska
March 28, 2104 – Verbier, Switzerland
The Swatch Freeride World Tour is all about extreme riding. Held at some of the most aggressive locales slopes in the world including: Mont Blanc; Haines, Alaska and Verbier Switzerland the Freeride World Tour is the bar for those looking to set their names into the history books of gnar.
World Snowboard Tour
Dew Tour – 12.11.14-12.14.14
FIS Championships 1.15.15-1.25.15
Air & Style Innsbruck – 1.16.15 – 1.17.15
Winter X Games, Aspen – 1.22.15-1.25.15
Burton Euro Open, LAAX – 1.29.15 – 2.1.15
US Grand Prix, Mammoth – 2.2.15-2.7.15
Air & Style Los Angeles – 2.21.15-2.22.15
Burton US Open, Vail – 3.2.15-3.7.15
Formerly know as the TTR Tour, the World Snowboard Tour is made up of the most prestigious competitions on the planet including X Games, Air & Style, and the Burton US Open. If you’re winning on the world Snowboard Tour, you’re a real Top Gun.