15th Annual Neil Edgeworth Banked Slalom

Photo compliments of Jeff Willard (http://www.jeffwillard.ca/)

I have been snowboarding for well over a decade. However, now that people call me Doctor, I feel some pressure to throw in the towel on my snowboarding career, in light of safer and more “mature” adventures, like jogging or tennis. But alas, strapping in and shredding the gnar still holds dear to me. In fact, I recently put the nail in the “growing up” coffin, resolving to a life of snow-piracy. What caused this resolute polarization, you ask? The 15th Annual Neil Edgeworth Memorial Banked Slalom.

Photo compliments of Jeff Willard (http://www.jeffwillard.ca/)

Over 250 powder hounds, groomer looters, and park rats descend upon Big White every year for this extravagant jamboree.  A competition like this really makes a guy feel good about being a snowboarder; this race is less about winning and more about being part of something big. You can’t help but feel it in the crisp mountain air. The electric throng which inhabits the launch tent takes it upon themselves to get riders fired up as they hurl their bodies down the winding course. As riders come flying through, barely on the verge of control, a conglomerate of supportive boarders, two-plankers, and observers waits near the end of the gully. They are cheering for every single rider that comes through, friend or foe. Even untimely bails and jarring crashes are met with a sense of comradery, as if the crowd is declaring “we’ve been there too, dude”. The environment really can’t get much better, even for someone new to the Okanagan, such as me.

Photo compliments of Jeff Willard (http://www.jeffwillard.ca/)

All racers are split into age/gender categories, as well as snow-skate, adaptive, and pro. While one category of racers competes, the rest of the party explores the rest of the winter wonderland that is Big White. Riders from all walks of life, from Olympic Gold medalists to local hobbyists, have their turn to feed off of the exhilarating energy that flows through the snow-maniacal brethren/sisterhood.

Photo compliments of Jeff Willard (http://www.jeffwillard.ca/)

Riders continue pumping out runs for two jam-packed days. Once all is said and done, there is a huge buffet dinner, awards ceremony, and prize giveaway to cap it all off. This year’s post-race celebration was so packed that yours truly couldn’t even find a seat in the Loose Moose Café. Although the ceremonies go on for hours, it flies by pretty quick, as your friends and family are all joining in the buzz and likely even getting some loot in the give-away.

Photo compliments of Benjamin Stevens (www.valeohealthclinic.com)

If you’re from the Okanagan or in need of a reason to come visit in the winter, consider coming to “compete” in the Neil Edgeworth Memorial Banked Slalom. It’s a solid weekend adventure filled with more positive energy than a Richard Simmons video (albeit, with a slightly less flamboyant guise). See you there next year. For more pictures and info on the event, check out the Big White Facebook page.


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