Day Two: 2002 Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom

Day two, let’s see what we can do. Eight to twelve inches of new overnight. Not bottomless, still plenty deep. After clearing a bunch of fallen logs across the road and the weekend traffic, Banked Slalom racers were treated to one of the softest, smoothest courses since the snowfall record fell.Things filled in nicely. “We looked at the course and said, “‘Well, I guess we don’t have to groom it,'” Gwyn Howat said. There was no need—with a temperature dipping into the 20s and fresh snow, the banks were bountiful and the racing, just about perfect.Once the Masters had completed their stretch (touch your toes, take two Advil), they were off and running. Mike Cotes continued his dominance over Amateur Masters, shaving a second off his time. If he can prolong this streak through Sunday, heíll earn a B.S. footnote for having won a division (Grand Masters, 2001), then dropped a class for the repeat. Cotes is a time warp—getting older and faster.Likewise, Rob Skala. With a speedy time posted in Grand Masters, he might be doing better than he has in about sixteen years. Coming off yesterday, only a pair of Junior/Amateurs cracked a 1:20—not so the case today. With visibility that improved considerably, racers let it run.Today in history, Manuela Pesko from Switzerland made some gains in Pro Women, with Jealouse and Jeffery’s times unposted. The rumored La Dome party on Friday was not to be, thanks to local authorities who wouldn’t grant a permit. Everyone stay home, now, it’s not safe out in a tent in parking lot in the woods.In Pro Men, Temple Cummins asserted his local status by standing on a straight and stable 1:23:83, shaving a second off yesterday’s fastest qualifying time. Terje Haakonsen finished in 1:24:07, reminding he can go as fast as he needs to. Boardercross killer Xavier Delerue motored into third. Matt Goodwill and Mario Paolo Dabbeni weren’t far behind.After blowing by the Pro Men’s pack yesterday, Ralph Backstrom made yet another board change and ended up two seconds slower. He rode tall and smooth in the saddle, but will have to dig deep to make good on his promise. Ted Irwin has him back on a K2, so he should be ready to charge.That’s the beauty of Sunday’s final: Two runs, two chances to see what you can do. For everybody in, the past gets reset. The finals is truly anybody’s race to win, so chow down on some Baked Salmon. The beer garden, fried oysters, sashimi, and live music are all the nightlife a racer needs. Like the lift ticket said, it was an epic day, Scott. Wish you were here, tomorrow we ride.

Three L.B.S. Winners, Three Ways To A WinMatt Goodwill (Pro Men1999): Wax and scrape your board. Shave a tenth of a second off your time with every stroke. So serious about his tuning, Goody brought in a pair of sawhorses on a blanket to his cabin and went to work.

Rob Morrow (Pro Men1989, 1997) : Ride every bank as if it was made of the soft stuff. Rides the bank as much as he can. “In early, out late,” his strategy. Compact, straight-legged style always makes Rob fast.

Shannon Melhuse (2001 Masters): This course, the bottom is a G.S. so stay solid up top, point it through the straight-aways. No speed checks. Consistency is Shannon’s gamerepeating runs within tenths of a second.