Wax is for Winners – Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom
evoCrew member Jon Kiser explores tips and tricks from the pros for a successful race at the annual Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom.
In the 17 years I’ve been attending the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom wax has always been at the center of the conversation, waxing your board properly is the sacrament of winners everywhere. Or so I have been told. I have only raced twice in the main event, once in the local qualifier and this year I will be competing on a lottery ticket again. It’s been a long year contemplating what went wrong last year. I lost by four seconds to place fourth in the qualifier on a two-minute course, which feels like an eternity. On a course that featured 43ish turns every millisecond mattered – the flats, the downs, and the turns all require wax. For instance, look at the Pro Men category, all of the top 10 racers fall within a four-second threshold. So what happened? Why do I suck so much and why is four seconds so important?
Here’s a thinker: to complete the course in under 2:09, each turn would have to be executed in three seconds or less. Start adding .1 second to each turn and now you are at 2:13 – not very forgiving but maybe that is why wax is so important. Or is it maybe just fantasy? Let’s hear from some seasoned riders to find out their best advice for winning, or not.
Marcel Dolak (3 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze)
Rewinding back 26 years ago to my first Mt. Baker Banked Slalom, I remember watching Craig Kelly getting his board ready in the back of MBSS when I was staying with the Dobis family. It would take him 2-3 hours to get it perfect, and it worked! I watched carefully, and learned as much as I could. My focus for the banked slalom foremost is fluidity and smoothness on the course, trying to pretend ice does not exist. Mark Fawcett and Terje are good examples of this! Wax is important, and having the right temp range wax as well as snow humidity (old snow or new snow) are key. Always scrape tip to tail to avoid p-tex fibers being pulled the wrong direction. Stay away from base cleaner, and use a good hydrocarbon prep wax. Locally, One Ball Jay makes some great race wax and they work on making their waxes as eco friendly as possible. It’s available at most shops in the area. Most importantly, just go fast! See you at the start shack.
Pete Saari (Mervin Co-Founder)
Me to myself… “It’s way way way better to eat shit sending it than safely get to the bottom and look up at a mediocre time.” You don’t really need or want a specialty carving board you are running through banked berms on a pretty flat base…run the board you know stomps landings because all hell breaks loose at least four times a run and you want a board you can count on.
Johan Malkoski (Sales Manager at C3 – 1 Bronze)
Best advice to me was from Benny Pelligrino. “Dude, what the hell are you stressed out about? You’re not gonna win, not even come close. So relax and have fun.” That and Maxx Von Marbod told me to ride the berms not through the berms, but what does he know, he doesn’t make the finals. For the kids, I tell them someone’s gonna win the slalom, so it might as well be them. I’v also said that tomorrow, no one will remember what happened today, so bet it all and let the cards land where they do. Seems to have worked out for Milo thru the years.
Ryan Davis (NW Mervin Rep)
Eat good food, listen to Tittyfish, and don’t party too hard! And some truly solid advice, “There is no duct tape with a safety run” -(someone who has won duct tape).
Maxx Von Marbod (10-time contender)
Ride the walls as high as you can. Stay outta the ruts! Good luck ritual? Hug Amy and Britt in the race shack.
Tanner McCarty (Team Manager at RIDE – 1 Bronze)
This is my second race. First one was last year and I got third in older ams. Not sure how. I wax after I get home from the bar at night, usually around 2 am with whatever wax is kicking around. I do this so I don’t forget in the morning. Then usually have a panic attack about it right before I race. Usually look for a brush up there.
Austin Smith (Drink Water Founder – 4 top 100 finishes)
I saw Harry Kearney win with Chris Beresford’s used rail board. After that I realized wax doesn’t matter but I still do it and I still don’t do well. In the past I’ve always done the best on old snowboards. You find the good race board and keep it in good condition and bring it out for each race but I lost that one and now I don’t know what I’m going to ride. I think I’ll go with a swallow tail and see what happens.
Dustin Anderson (NW ZIA Works Principal Rep – 15 time contender)
Waxing techniques- I try and get techy with my wax for sure. Highest priority is the appropriate wax temp and applying in a warm location so saturation is proper. I never scrape in the morning, always a run or two before my run and usually a final buff before dropping in. I always wax the night before.
There you have it. Stay tuned for updates throughout the event!
Day 1 (posted Day 2): Power was out in Glacier, so no updates could be made. The course was fast, chunky and visibility was minimal.
Day 2: Race course is fast and clean, times are better than day 1 due to better visibility.
Day 3: On the way, results for all races are posted at the Mt. Baker LBS website. The sun came out, the course was the best anyone had ever seen it and the pro mens category was firing.
Check out all the results on the Mt Baker LBS website and see how everyone did.
1st – Nils Mindich
2nd – Josh Dirksen
3rd – Curtis Ciszek
1st – Stephanie Haines
2nd – Spencer O’Brien
3rd – Torah Bright