Glencoe Mountain resort
Today (Saturday) was the day for the Bangers & Slash banked slalom at Glencoe. I’d to told most people I know that I planned to enter. Mainly to prevent myself from backing out. The last ‘fun’ race I entered, I ended up smashing my coccyx and walking like a cowboy for 6 weeks.
Conditions on the course
I arrived on the hill jut after 9:30am. There was time to practice on the banked slalom and I decided in my wisdom to make this my first run of the day, my first practice run down the technical tricky slalom consisted of a steep start, with high sided banked turns that you had to ride around as smoothly and quickly as possible.
History of the Banked Slalom
Banked slaloms are an important part of snowboard history. One of the first and probably the best known is the Mount Baker Banked Slalom, which is still run till this day. Riders compete for the coveted roll of golden duct tape.
The concept of the baked slalom originated back in the day before snowboards had metal rails. The banked turns were essential to help proto-snowboarders make their turns down the course. It is usually the smoothest rider with the best board control that makes it first past the post. It is not a snowboard/skier-cross.
Practice makes perfect, eh no
It is not just a case of riding fast. Riding fast I can do, but in long, cruising carved turns. My first practice run was measured and slow, but I made it down the course. My second and third made me think I’d bitten off more than I could chew. The steep-sided berms were tight and spat me out when my legs struggled with the compression round the corners.
I decided to get in a couple of runs elsewhere on the mountain to try to calm down and let the adrenalin dissipate. This race is a ‘fun’ race, but for some reason, during any form of competition whether it’s against other people or the clock I get a bit over excited and anxious. I have yet to work out how to harness this for good!
Around the mountain
The mountain still has superb wide cover. The freezing levels were above the summits and it was around 3-4ºC and the snow was softening up beautifully. The day started with sunshine, but drifting cloud gradually accumulated throughout the day. I spent most of the time at the top of the mountain between Happy Valley and Main Basin. However I found the Rock Garden and Rannoch Glades was coming into its own and leads to a nice steep section just above Mugs Alley. In some sections this snow was starting to shed off the rock face, leaving long deep crevasses which you had to avoid.
My turn to race
The Bangers & Slash event was an open format. Skiers and snowboarders of all ages were welcome to sign up. Since it was individual timed runs, you could just slide up when you felt like it. I decided my time had come. I had been close to chickening out, but, no. I had to go through with it.
I had felt anxious all morning and by the time I was standing in the start gate the feeling was at its peak. 3…2…1…dropping! I went into the first turn, stay high, toe side turn, in to the second turn, heel side. Couldn’t scrub speed in the narrow groove, next toe side turn and I was going too fast. Instead of following the curve of the berm, I launched over the top. I struggled back on to the course, but the following turns were not much better. I think I missed several of the gates and by the time I reached the bottom my legs were shot and I crossed the line shaking my head. ‘Oh dear’ I said to myself. It wasn’t even worth waiting for a time.
I made my way back to the start to get some still shots from the race. Watching others getting it right where I got it so wrong. Never mind, it was all for ‘fun’, wasn’t it?
The Fun continued
There was plenty of fun to be had around the mountain and with very few people at the lift, the laps of the top mounted up.
My last run was down Rannoch Glades once again and it took me down on to Mugs Alley and finally on to Rankin’s Return. I did manage to fit in some switch riding, just to practice riding backwards. I don’t do that enough. I need to practice more, and if that race was anything to go by, I wish I was a better snowboarder than I am … more reason to practice.
As I came off the hill at the end of the day, I joined the large queue of folk waiting to take the access chair back down. Everyone gathered at the bottom outside the cafe for the prize-giving. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay. I had a previous engagement back in Glasgow. So I never found out my official ranking, but I can imagine it was a big fat DQ. (Disqualified, if you didn’t know already)