Competition and chill collide at 9th annual Slash and Burn in Steamboat
The beauty of Slash and Burn Banked Slalom is it allows everyone to channel their competitive energy and have a true shot at a title.
Snowboarders of all ages gathered at Bashor Bowl at Steamboat Resort on Saturday, March 11, to celebrate the sport, encourage each other, and be the fastest rider in their division.
“It’s like a family reunion in a sense,” said Steamboat Springs local Reece Clay. “A lot of friends that have left usually come back. It’s a good time to just meet up.”
Clay and buddy Vince Bazile have competed in the event all nine years it’s existed and keep coming back for the community.
“It’s a good, healthy, happy, industry event and gets a lot of people together,” Bazile said.
Both put down a fall-free first run in the men’s masters division, so they were prepared to go full send on the second go. They both hoped for the win, but had realistic expectations at the same time.
“You always feel faster than you actually go,” Bazile said.
“You see the time and you’re like, ‘Aww’ that wasn’t fast at all,” Clay added.
In the grand masters women’s divisions, Adrienne Gibson of Fort Collins had much lower expectations for her first Slash and Burn.
“I’ve heard it’s icy at the top and kind of bumpy,” Gibson said. “I’m just going to try to stay on my board and get down. That’s what I would like to do.”
Gibson was compelled to take part since her husband raced the last two years. While she doesn’t frequently compete in races, she’s more familiar with snowboards than most.
Starting in Southern California and later at Mammoth, Gibson has been riding for about 32 years, long since the sport became cool or even allowed at most resorts.
“I had a friend and we knew someone who had a connection to buy them so we were like, ‘Hey, let’s give it a try,’” she recalled. “I fell in love with it. … In the 90s, Mammoth, that was the mecca of snowboarding. We had awesome pikes and parks. I just became addicted.”
Beth Niotis also brought more than two decades of snowboarding to Slash and Burn Saturday. Niotis chases banked slalom across the country and made the trip from Vail with the help of her sponsor, Ryidar.
“They’re inexpensive to do, they all go to charity. I really like supporting the communities that put them on,” she said. “You get to meet new people and meet lots of women and encourage women my age and ability in snowboarding.”
Competing in Slash and Burn in 2020 reignited a flame within her and she’s been finding banked slaloms ever since.
When Niotis was younger, she had hopes of going pro in boardercross, but a poorly timed foot injury halted her riding career. Now, at 39, she seeks out races like Slash and Burn for a safe space to bust out her competitive edge.
Her will to win was in full force Saturday with back-to-back second-place finishes at Slash and Burn in 2021 and 2022 haunting her. She hoped she could finally get over that hump and get the crown in the women’s masters division with a new tune and some serious skill.
“I just won last week in Minnesota for the Burton Mystery Series and the Rattlesnake at Buck Hill,” she said. “So I’m hoping to win this weekend too.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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