Slash and Burn Banked Slalom a unique snowboard event |

Slash and Burn Banked Slalom brings unique snowboard event back to Steamboat Resort

Tori Koski competes in the women’s open class of the third annual Slash and Burn Banked Slalom at Howelsen Hill. Koski, the snowboard program director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, took first. (File photo by Austin Colbert)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Four hundred snowboarders are expected to pack the Bashor Bowl at Steamboat Resort this weekend in the annual Slash and Burn Banked Slalom competition.

If you go

Saturday, March 16, at Steamboat Resort

7 to 8 a.m. Check-in at Powder Tools
8:30 to 9:15 a.m. Practice run
9:30 a.m. Youth race, best of two runs
10:30 a.m. Amateur men and women, masters 35+ and grand masters 50+ men and women, open class men and women
1 p.m. Second run
3 p.m. Switch race
5 p.m. Awards

The competition began six years ago when Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboard director Tori Koski was looking for a way to bring the snowboard community together. The name, “Slash and Burn,” comes from one the event’s original sponsors: Slash Snowboards.

“It started originally at Howelsen Hill, and I had built a banked slalom for USASA, then wanted to bring a event that was fun for the kids,” Koski said.

Koski threw together the event in 10 days, and 180 competitors ranging from 8 to older than 50 came to compete.

The banked slalom, a race course with steeply curved turns built from snow, originated 33 years ago on Mount Baker in Whatcom County, Washington, when world snowboarding champion Tom Sims brought up the idea of a snowboard-only race.

The idea behind the banked slalom is bringing together snowboarders of all levels and disciplines. Not everyone can land a trick off the half pipe or a jump, but every snowboarder can turn a snowboard.

The Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom is still around today, and other races like it have sprouted across the country.

Steamboat Springs is now in its second year of hosting the slalom at Steamboat Resort instead of Howelsen Hill. Last year’s event at the resort attracted 387 snowboarders, and this year’s competition was capped at 400.

“Howelsen was super tricky to build it on,” Koski said. “It took a lot of work, and we spent a lot of money doing the build.”

Building the course becomes a full-time job for resort workers, local sponsors and Winter Sports Club coaches for four days.

Alec Parker, the Steamboat terrain parks builder, starts by bringing a snow cat to push large piles of snow. The rest of the days are spent shoveling and raking the 20 banked turns and adding rollers for the boarders to pick up speed throughout the course. Once the course is set, the perimeters are lined with spray paint.

“We have to push it around, ride it out and let it sit and set up,” Powder Tools manager Bernie Tomassetti said. “This is probably the best year for building the course because we got the fresh snow, and it’s supposed to be bluebird all weekend.”

It’s what Tomassetti calls a “labor of love” since the event’s profits are all reinvested in prizes and the Winter Sports Club.

Koski spends all year organizing the event, recruiting sponsors to keep the entry fee affordable at $30 per competitor. An additional switch race at the end of the competition, which makes snowboarders lead with their opposite foot, has a $5 entry fee. The winner takes home all the cash.

The banked slalom is also a competition with an added twist — all boarders will race the course twice, but only the best of the two times are taken into consideration for the ultimate title. All boarders know their time after their first run, but none will know their second time until the results are tallied and posted at the after party.

Normal slalom races operate on a combined time, so top placers can be guessed after the first run.

In addition to awarding the top placers, there’s an award for the snowboarder who takes dead last in the men’s open class.

Spectators can enjoy refreshments and tacos at the bottom of the Bashor Bowl.

“It’s cool to see no age gap as far as who is hanging out,” Tomassetti said. “We’re just trying to grow snowboarding as much as possible.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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